Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts

Have you ever noticed that some people are potato people and some people are rice people? My dad for example, is a potato person. He’s happiest with a side of simple boiled potatoes as his starch, for practically any meal. He can eat a plate full of them, while I will have just a quarter of one small Yukon gold. I am a rice person. Perhaps it’s the residual of scraping by on steamed broccoli and brown rice for so many years before discovering the twin joys of bacon and butter. Or perhaps it comes from living in Japan where rice is so important the word for it (gohan) is the same as the word for food. In any case, I love rice every which way. This is a nutty, earthy rice pilaf, a riff off of my mother’s basic pilaf, but with mushrooms, toasted pine nuts, some butter, and a green. We were originally considering this as a stuffing for a poultry dish, but decided to serve it as a side instead (great with chicken). Do you have a favorite rice pilaf or pilaf-ish rice stuffing that could double as a side? I would love to hear about it. Thanks in advance. Yours truly, the Rice-Obsessed-One.

Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts Recipe

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.


  • Up to 4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (vegetable stock for vegetarian option, gluten-free stock for gluten-free version), depending on the type of rice you are using, or a mixture of water and stock*
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 5 ounces shiitake, cremini, or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions or yellow onions
  • 2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) chopped arugula, watercress, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

* The amount of stock you use for this recipe is dependent on the type of rice you are using, and the cooking directions on the package of rice. For example, if your rice calls for 1 3/4 cups of liquid for 1 cup of rice, then use 3 1/2 cups of stock/water for the 2 cups of rice that this recipe calls for.


1 Measure out the stock according to the liquid requirements on your package of rice for 2 cups of rice. Place in a 2 quart sauce pan and bring to a simmer. While the stock is heating, prepare the pine nuts, mushrooms, and rice in the next three steps.

2 Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the pine nuts. Toast, stirring occasionally until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the pine nuts from the hot pan to a bowl, set aside.

3 Return the pan to the heat. Add the chopped mushrooms. Dry sauté the mushrooms (using no fat), stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms give off much of their moisture and begin to brown slightly. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, set aside (can add to the same bowl as the pine nuts.)

4 Add olive oil to the pan and increase the heat to high. Add the white rice, spreading the rice out in the pan and stirring to coat with the oil. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice begins to brown. Mix in the onions, and cook for a couple minutes more, until the onions soften and turn translucent. Add the pine nuts and mushrooms to the rice and remove from heat.

5 Carefully add the rice mixture to the saucepan with the hot stock. Mix in the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, and cover the pan. Cook according the the rice package instructions, anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of rice. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.

6 Stir in the butter and and chopped arugula, watercress, or parsley. Fluff up with a fork. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

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Showing 4 of 18 Comments

  • Three-Cookies

    I love pilaf and have tried different versions but not mushroom and pine nuts. Sounds interesting.

    I like the Pakistani/Indian version that is spicy with meat. I also love the Central Asian version called plov that has carrots: http://easilygoodeats.blogspot.com/2011/01/kyrgyz-plov.html

    Carrots are unusual for pilaf but it works quite well.

  • sam

    We are def. rice people, except for my youngest son he can eat a pile mashed potatoes plain just like that, while my daughter is hapiest with a portion of white rice. I’ve lived in the middle east where I think almost everybody is a rice person :). Often loaded with gee or butter and cooked with spices like cardamon cinnamon and cloves. Although arabic cooking is not my al time favourite, my most enjoyed meal there was a dish called rice bukhari (I think) it was actually lambs meat served over spiced rice studded with rasins and carrots, it was pretty oily but I love the contrast of sweet and savoury.

  • Kate Connor

    In my mid-western Germanic household when I was a child, rice never factored in. I think my mom maybe had one old box of Minute Rice on the shelf that had been sitting there for, like, 10 years. My daughter, on the other hand, was partly raised under the tutelage of a Trinidadian nanny who ate rice with every meal so rice is her main comfort food. I like them both, though lean more toward the potatoes of my upbringing. But for me, a pilaf must have some kind of fruit in it. Maybe just raisins, sometimes dried apricots or even cranberries. Thanks!

  • bureaucrat

    I’m definitely a rice and potatoes person! A big bowl (or two) of steaming rice can be so comforting. And I’ve also been known to easily go through a kilo of roast potatoes all by myself (smothered in mayonnaise, tomato sauce and mustard).

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