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Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf

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Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf – An easy side dish to kick your meal up a notch in color and flavor, this vegetable rice pilaf is easy enough for a weeknight, and nice enough for a holiday or big dinner! 

Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf - Even my kids LOVE this vegetable rice pilaf. (gluten free, vegan)
Post & photos updated, and video added Mar 2018. Originally posted Sep 2016. 

We’re still very much in the stage of trying to get Milo and Sophie to try new foods and expose them to plenty of new flavors. Veggies are, for the most part, still a real struggle most nights.

I’ve been looking for lots of ways to get them on the table since, for many kids, it’s simply a matter of exposure and time before they are more open to and accepting of veggies. (Isn’t that true of adults too?)

This simple veggie rice has been a great one for us. Both kids really love rice, and this veggie-fied version has been a great addition to dinner time at our house. Even Milo, whose regular vegetable intake is basically baby carrots and whatever I can puree into a smoothie, ate bite after bite of this yummy rice pilaf. (KNOWING there were veggies in it!)


Easy, beautiful Veggie Rice Pilaf - Vegetable rice pilaf is such an easy, delicious side dish! (Gluten free, vegan)

My mom made an awesome rice pilaf when I was growing up that had onion, celery, butter, and was topped with toasted almonds. I knew that my kids would push their plates away if they spotted either onion or celery, so I decided to try other veggies.

Lots of combinations work here–you can certainly add some onion or celery, a little bell pepper, etc.–but for this version, I went with shredded zucchini and carrots. Since they’re grated, they blend right in texture-wise with the rest of the rice, and are, in all honesty, mostly there for color. The orange from the carrots gave an almost cheesy color to the rice, which actually worked to my advantage. The zucchini didn’t add more color than a tiny bit of minced cilantro would, but you can always peel the zucchini ahead of time if you’re nervous.

The other big flavor booster here is the broth. Cooking the rice with broth is a sure-fire way to add an extra layer of flavor. It’s incredible what just adding a little broth can do, especially if it’s homemade. Finish things off with some fresh herbs if you like, and it’s done! This is a perfect side dish on its own, but it’s also a great bed for stir-fry, rice bowls, and more!

Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf - Even my kids LOVE this vegetable rice pilaf. (gluten free, vegan)

Notes on the recipe:

Let’s Talk Rice. I like to use Basmati rice most often. Lundberg is a brand that uses sustainable and responsible growing practices and tends to produce really high-quality rice.

A Little Bit of Color. The veggies you add will bleed a little color into the rice. Carrots lend an almost cheesy color to the rice (which we didn’t mind one bit). Bell peppers can occasionally bleed a little color as well, so just be aware if you go that route.

Family Size. This recipe makes a hefty family-sized batch of rice, which is plenty for us to have two nights’ worth or more. If you’re feeding a smaller crowd, feel free to halve the recipe. (It’s not too tricky!)

Mix it Up. There are SO many ways you can add to or adjust this veggie rice. For example…

  • Try adding onion or celery in with the rice. Both onion and celery are BIG in flavor, so they’ll really add to and wake up the flavors going on. The zucchini and carrot are pretty mild, so if you’ve got super tasters on your hands, you may want to try a mild version first.
  • Stir in some frozen peas right before serving.
  • Mix in a flavor booster–a clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a pinch of curry powder or ground turmeric will add another layer of flavor.
  • Sprinkle on some herbs. I’m a big fan of fresh herbs, and love that I can play with the flavor of this rice a lot simply by swapping my herbs. Try a little fresh dill and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, or a little fresh parsley or cilantro. Add a bell pepper to the veggie blend and try a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf - An easy side dish, this vegetable rice pilaf is easy enough for a weeknight, and nice enough for a holiday or big dinner! 

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Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf - Even my kids LOVE this vegetable rice pilaf. (gluten free, vegan)

Simple Veggie Rice Pilaf


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 6 reviews

  • Author: Emily
  • Yield: 8 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice (or other long-grain rice)
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (or butter/ghee)
  • 3 1/4 cups vegetable broth (or chicken, if not vegan)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: 1-2 Tbsp fresh herbs (like dill, cilantro, parsley, or basil)

Instructions

Rinse the rice in a fine mesh sieve to wash away some of the starch.
Add your oil/butter to a saucepan and melt over medium heat.
Add zucchini, carrot, and rice and stir to coat.
Add broth and a pinch of salt and pepper to the saucepan and cover.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low for 15 minutes or until the water has all been absorbed and the rice is tender. Fluff rice with a fork and add additional salt and pepper, as desired, along with fresh herbs (if using).

Notes

Family Size – This recipe makes a hefty family-sized batch of rice, which is plenty for us to have two nights’ worth or more. If you’re feeding a smaller crowd, feel free to halve the recipe. (It’s not too tricky!)

Mix it Up. There are SO many ways you can add to or adjust this veggie rice. For example…

1. Try adding onion or celery in with the rice. Both onion and celery are BIG in flavor, so they’ll really add to and wake up the flavors going on. The zucchini and carrot are pretty mild, so if you’ve got super tasters on your hands, you may want to try a mild version first.

2. Stir in some frozen peas right before serving.

3. Mix in a flavor booster–a clove of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a pinch of curry powder or ground turmeric will add another layer of flavor.

4. Sprinkle on some herbs. I’m a big fan of fresh herbs, and love that I can play with the flavor of this rice a lot simply by swapping my herbs. Try a little fresh dill and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice, or a little fresh parsley or cilantro. Add a bell pepper to the veggie blend and try a sprinkle of fresh basil.

Nutrition

  • Calories: 184kcal
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 401mg
  • Fat: 5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Cholesterol: 0
Simple Veggie Rice - An easy side dish to kick your meal up a notch in color & flavor. This is a perfect side dish, great with stir-fry, rice bowls & more!This veggie rice is a fabulous, simple side. Try it topped with stir-fry, next to chicken or fish, or as a base for dinner bowls!

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39 Comments

  1. This looks delicious! My littlest guy was just diagnosed with severe dairy and egg allergies, and I’ve been loving looking at all your vegan, kid friendly recipes. Thanks for sharing them!

    1. Tara – We are in a similar boat. We have nut and egg allergies, and used to have milk allergies in our house too. It’s hard! Sending you happy vibes that you aren’t alone! I’ve found great, easily-adaptable recipes on this site. Also, for egg replacement try the “flax eggs.” It’s how I get my cookie fix 🙂 Good luck!

  2. This looks like the most delicious rice. I love carrots and zucchini. Definitely going to make this hopefully this weekend. You have so many healthy gorgeous recipes on your blog loaded with fruits and veggies. This is really nice simple food. Keep doing the family friendly recipes–love this, thank you!

  3. Hi! I would love to try this recipe, but I am a little hesitant on rinsing the rice. After you rinsed it, do you shake out as much water as possible, or pat it dry before using? Thank you and looking forward to trying it! 🙂

    1. Pieterina – Since I rinse it in a fine mesh sieve, I let as much water as I can drain out of the rice before putting it into the pan. I do this every time I make rice, whether it’s this veggie rice or plain rice.

  4. Hi! Just found this recipe on Pinterest and it looks great. Do you think it would work with brown rice if you added a little extra broth and adjusted the cooking time? Thanks!

    1. Elizabeth – I haven’t tried it with brown rice, but I would think so, given the adjustments you made! (longer cook time, more broth). If you try it, I’d LOVE to know how it turns out since I’m sure there are others who would love to try it that way!

  5. I love this recipe! So simple and a great way to dress up some rice, which is a staple for us. I will be trying this soon! Also, I loved your Insta Stories today! As a speech therapist who has worked with kids and done feeding therapy, you are doing it RIGHT. Even as a speech and feeding professional, I find myself in fights with my kids over food, haha. And, there is so much more emotion when it’s your kid vs. the kids I work with. Picky eaters are hard! Great advice 🙂

  6. Made it today and liked it, will be making it again. Only thing I did that I would change the next time would be check on the rice sooner than waiting 15 min, a bit of it got burnt by the time I checked on it. Otherwise, all good!






  7. The best Pilaf Recipe ever!! My Daughter loved it too and Celery addes so much Flavor!! Thank you so much! Definetly my Favorite from now!! 🤗






    1. Oh dear. I’m sorry! It sounds like it may have slightly overcooked. Because each stove varies a bit temperature-wise, the times I list are estimates and could possibly influence the cooking time. Next time, I’d recommend pulling it off the heat a few minutes earlier to see if that helps.

  8. Loved this rice. Added a stalk of celery as we. Very buttery when cooked in butter, also used chicken broth. Wouldn’t change a thing… rice cooked to perfection. Will definitely make again! Thank you Emily for sharing. I would love to find your blog with other recipes.






  9. This was a great recipe..

    I added a few items and did it a little different. I used used fresh carrots but frozen corn and grean beans. I added onion powder and garlic at the end of frying. And Saffron when chicken stock in.

    Very good!!






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