This one-pot rice pilaf is bursting with Mediterranean flavours! Baked and then garnished with herbs and lemon just before serving – you’ll want to eat this tasty rice straight from the pot!
I love that in food there are memories. Tasting a certain food can transport you back and allow you to reminisce about somewhere you travelled to or a time you really enjoyed and have fond memories of.
That’s exactly what this recipe does for me.
I first had a taste of rice very similar to this a number of years ago on holiday on one of my first visits to the glorious Mediterranean island of Cyprus. My family and I would visit this one restaurant a couple of times during our trip, the restaurant specialised in souvlaki, which consists of various meats and vegetables grilled on a barbecue. Each diner received a massive plate that included a jacket potato, souvlaki meat of your choice such as beef, chicken or pork, a corn on the cob and a small portion of rice. The rice wasn’t just boring plain boiled rice, it was incredibly buttery and rich in sensational flavours.
Greek is one of the many cuisines I really enjoy. A few of my personal Greek food favourites include spanakopita, tzatziki and tiropitakia – we used to buy these from bakeries on the way to the beach and would sit eating these amazing cheesy pastries whilst feeling the gentle sea breeze and sun on us. Just thinking of that I’d desperately like to be transported back there right now!
Wave goodbye to the winter blues by making this rice, it’s sure to bring a touch of sunshine to your day!
30g / 2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of olive oil
1 white onion, diced
2-3 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 dried or fresh bay leaves, torn – tearing the leaves releases the flavour
450g (2 cups) long grain rice
900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
Zest from half a large lemon and a squeeze of the juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Few sprigs each of fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped
Small handful of fresh parsley (approx. 2-3 tablespoons), finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. In a large ovenproof saucepan over a medium heat melt one tablespoon of the butter and the oil.
- Add the onion, garlic, bay leaves and a touch of salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until soft and translucent – you don’t want this to colour too much.
- Now add the rice and stir until all the grains of rice are moistened by the butter. Then add the stock, cover the saucepan with a lid and allow it to come up to the boil.
- Once boiling take off the heat and place in the oven to braise for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is completely cooked through.
- Add the chopped herbs, lemon zest and a generous squeeze of the juice and season with extra salt and pepper to taste.
- Leave the rice with the lid on and allow the flavours to develop for about 5-10 minutes prior to serving. Garnish the rice with extra chopped parsley if desired.
- Rice is best served straight away or at room temperature. Don’t reheat rice more than once. If you’re reheating it check temperature has reached at least 75°C before consuming.
- If your saucepan lid is not ovenproof then you can cook this rice in a dish covered with tin/aluminium foil.
- If you’re planning to make this rice dairy-free you can substitute the butter for a dairy-free alternative or just use oil.
- I’ve tested this recipe out a few times and I’ve found adding the zest from half a large lemon adds more than enough lemon flavour without being overpowering. If you want you can add the zest of the whole lemon if you’re a lemon lover!
- This rice doesn’t have to the braised in the oven you can cook it by boiling it the stove top instead if you’d prefer to do that. I baked it as this is how I was taught how to cook the best rice at culinary school. Just check how long your rice needs to cook, each brand can cook differently. There’s nothing nice about overcooked rice and you won’t want this rice to be the texture of rice pudding!
- Rice can be eaten on its own but it’s also great served with chicken or fish such as salmon or prawns/shrimp.
- This recipe will typically serve 4-6 people generously but it can serve up to 8 smaller portions.
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