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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Method

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.

18 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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).

  4. Caroline

    The only pilaf I’ve made so far comes out of a box! I hate knowing just how much sodium and preservatives are in them, but (until now) I hadn’t really seen a pilaf recipe that piqued my interest. I’m bookmarking this one to make for the hubby one night, I’m sure he’d love it!

  5. randi

    I got excited when reading the word bacon in your introduction…but it wasn’t in the ingredient list. I’m sure I could sneak some in. I could eat a bowl of plain steamed rice as a meal I love it so much.

  6. Stephanie Skaggs

    This sounds great. Do you think it would work with brown rice? I’ve got a costco bag I’m trying to get through.

    The thing with brown rice is that it takes 3 times as long to cook. Browning the white rice just makes it more flavorful and brown rice already has a ton of flavor. That said, I LOVE brown rice, and would be really interested to know how this recipe turns out with it, so if you make it with brown rice, please let us know how it works for you. ~Elise

  7. Val from PA

    I would have to say I’m more like your dad on this one – I don’t think I’ve ever met a potato I didn’t like… Home fries, shredded hash browns, pomme frites, soups, casseroles – you name it, I like it!!!

    That said, I do enjoy rice, especially pilafs that are dressed up like yours is. Thanks for sharing!!!

  8. Garland

    I make something similar to this but with sliced toasted almonds mixed in right before serving. Oh, and shallots instead of onions, if I have them – they just have that something extra dimension and make me feel fancy using them :). Leeks are good too.

  9. Lisa

    I love both rice and potatoes…but having married into a Cuban family 30-plus years ago and adopting so much of their culture as my own, we eat a lot of rice! Plain or fancy, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s rice. :) This is one recipe that I use regularly, though without the pine nuts. Thanks for featuring it!

  10. Susan

    I will eat any starch, but am most partial to rice. The closest I’ve gotten to calling a rice dish a pilaf is when I add some minced onion, julienned carrots, and peas while cooking my regular rice. I garnish it with toasted sliced almonds. My favorite prep will always be just plain white (Uncle Bens converted) rice with salt and butter. On occasion, I’ve eaten it all by itself and called it dinner.

  11. Alan

    This recipe sounds great! Do you know if everything could be put into a rice cooker at step 5? If so, any changes/substitutions to consider? Thanks :)

    I don’t see why not, but I haven’t tried it with a rice cooker. ~Elise

  12. Jessica

    I’m a potato person, and my husband is a rice person. We have a hard time choosing dinner sometimes. It usually follows that rice goes with chicken, potatoes goes with beef, and noodles go with pork. I know, not very creative, but it works for us :)

  13. Charlene

    I made this for supper with a few changes. Walnuts instead of pine nuts cause I have lots of walnuts. Halved the amount of rice cause I didn’t have 2 cups but used an 8 oz. pkg. of creminis and probably 2 cups of arugula. Gosh, this was good! Thanks, Elise. I’ll be making this again for sure!

  14. Arlen

    I see that you spent some time in Japan, and that’s where I live now. Have you tested this recipe with short-grain rice? That’s the only type of rice we generally use.

    No, but I’m guessing it would work fine. ~Elise

  15. Leung

    Do you think brown rice will work well? My family doesn’t like white rice, but if I use brown rice do I need to modify anything?

    You will need to modify the cooking time, as brown rice typically takes 3 times as long to cook as white rice. ~Elise

  16. Sofya @ The Girls' Guide to Guns and Butter

    Hi Elise! I just happened to have a perfect (well, in our opinion) rice recipe for you – a delicious layered steamed rice pilaf from my native Azerbaijan. It’s a true showcase piece and I actually got it from a different Azerbaijani blog (there’s really just two of us, Azeri food bloggers), AZ Cookbook, but I’ve adapted it slightly for myself. Anyhow, this uses chicken and sweet dried fruit and chestnuts. Here’s a step-by-step pictorial recipe:

    http://girlsguidetobutter.com/2011/01/the-archetypal-azerbaijani-pilaf-via-az-cookbook-2/

    So excited to hear what you think about it!! I think you might just love it. When I was growing up, it was such a luxury food. I am getting excited just writing about it. And I am a potato person otherwise!

    Wow, that’s a beautiful rice pilaf! I love the fruit and chestnuts. ~Elise

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