Homemade Rice-a-Roni has that great texture combination of rice and pasta, delicious lemon-dill flavors and, of course, a trip down memory lane.
I must admit I’ve only had Rice-a-Roni a few times in my life, but I still remember that yummy comfort-food texture I love. I don’t know why but I’ve had it on my brain lately (I think that texture part) but I decided to give a homemade version a try.
Rice-a-Roni, for those who remember it, is a combination of rice and pasta and comes in many flavors. It’s not really a big secret copycat recipe because you are essentially using the same process to make rice (that is, if you’re adding onions or any chopped vegetables).
Basically, you can use any combination of rice and pasta, any type of broth (vegetable, chicken, beef) and any vegetables and seasonings. So it’s pretty easy to create your own. In this recipe, I used lemon and dill. I also added asparagus to bulk it up and make it healthier, but this is completely optional.
The dish is vegetarian, takes less about 30 minutes to make and can be tweaked to what you like. It’s a great side for Maple-Ginger Salmon With Peach Salsa, Baked Apricot Chicken and Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Maple Mustard Glaze.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use any combination of rice and pasta e.g. half and half, more rice than pasta, more pasta than rice.
- Try different types of rice (I used Jasmine, but Basmati or any long grain will do).
- For the pasta, I used orzo, but many recipes call for broken-up thin spaghetti or vermicelli.
- Mix in freshly chopped baby spinach at the end. It takes about 1 minute to wilt.
- Instead of lemon and dill, use: sauteed tomatoes and garlic; or onions and mushrooms; or curry and raisins.
- Use different types of broth.
Make Ahead Homemade Rice-A-Roni
- The recipe can be made ahead and warmed in the microwave with a tablespoon of broth or water.
- If refrigerating overnight, the asparagus (if using) may lose their vibrant color.
Lemon Dill Homemade Rice-A-Roni
- 2 tbsp olive oil or butter (or combination)
- 1/4 cup orzo (or broken-up thin spaghetti)
- 1/2 cup long grain rice (white, basmati, jasmine)
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion or onion
- 1 1/2 cups broth (vegetable, chicken or beef)
- 3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest,
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4-1/2 tsp)
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 8-10 medium asparagus stalks, cut into pieces (OPTIONAL)
- SAUTE ORZO, RICE, ONIONS: Heat oil/butter in skillet to medium high. Add orzo, rice and onions and saute, stirring for about 5-6 minutes, until half of orzo and rice turns light brown.
- ADD BROTH, HERBS AND SIMMER: Add broth, lemon, zest, dill, salt and pepper. Bring to boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until broth is absorbed and rice/orzo is tender. (If adding asparagus: add asparagus pieces to skillet 4-5 minutes before the rice-orzo finishes cooking. Cover and continue cooking). Mix in parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings (adding more salt, dill or lemon zest if desired) and serve immediately.
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