an easy rice pilaf (and apparently a good way to get chopped tomatoes into a picky child)


I’m recording another new family favourite to make it easier for me to find/remember. This one stemmed from the small kid’s desire for me to make her some tomato rice pilaf like she’d had at a restaurant. The small kid asking for something with actual tomato chunks in it is a big breakthrough. It’s up there with the tall kid suddenly starting to eat salad. It’s possible that the world is ending or we are on the verge of a zombie invasion, but in the meantime I will endeavor to make the small kid anything with vegetables in it that she asks for. This is the basic recipe, but it’s easily changed by changing the liquid (use beef stock or tomato juice), and adding in some different seasonings or additional ingredients (like some chopped tomatoes, as in the picture).

I was impressed enough that the small kid was willing to eat a tomato pilaf that I will make this again with tomato juice and more tomatoes. I’ve also tried it with spaghetti broken into small pieces instead of the orzo pasta. As a side dish, this is pretty mild, but additions like a tablespoon of Greek seasoning mix and some chopped green onions give it extra flavour.

I sauté the onions, garlic and orzo, then add it to my rice cooker to finish cooking – I am a distracted person at the best of times and the rice cooker helps ensure that I don’t burn dinner. And it keeps my husband from telling me that the smoke detector isn’t a kitchen timer.

Easy Rice Pilaf

Printable version

(makes 4 servings)

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp Greek seasoning (optional)
  • chopped tomatoes (2 or 3 Romas)
  • green onions for garnish (optional)

Melt the butter in a skillet (use one with a lid if you are going to cook entirely on the stove) over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the orzo and cook until the pasta is golden brown (keep stirring so it doesn’t burn). Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

At this point you can add the onion, garlic and orzo into a rice cooker with the rest of the ingredients and let it finish cooking, or you can finish cooking it on the stove. If using the stove top method, mix in the rice and broth (and the tomatoes, if you are adding them). Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and serve.

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19 thoughts on “an easy rice pilaf (and apparently a good way to get chopped tomatoes into a picky child)

  1. Did it turn out like the one she had at the restaurant?

  2. I had a picky eater and like you, if he asked for anything that was even sort of healthy I moved heaven and earth to feed it to him (or it felt like it) at 22 he now eats salad and it does this mother’s heart good

  3. souldipper says:

    Yum…hope your kids don’t read your blog! Love your commentary about their pickiness. Bet you didn’t bet away with that! Well…I better speak for myself – being of more mature vintage.

  4. Geraldine says:

    lookin’ good! 😉

  5. Barbara Good says:

    Yum! But what exactly is orzo pasta? And I love that you cook it in the rice cooker. I definitely should try this. Thanks for sharing your family favourites!

    • Orzo is just a small, flat rice-sized pasta – but broken up spaghetti would do the trick too. I’m always happy to find something new that everyone likes, especially the small kid. She’s not terribly picky, but has never been fond of tomatoes other than in a sauce.

  6. I’ve never used the rice cooker for anything but plain rice; must try this! Would also be really good as a side dish with a Mexican entree.

  7. No way with your abundance of tomatoes that you have one child who won’t eat them. 🙂 Have you considered it could be a body snatcher? It’s an old family joke from when my grandmother would have her meds mixed up and wouldn’t know who we were, to make things easier on the children we would say the body snatcher had borrowed her body for the day, or so, until she was back to her old self. You either cry or laugh, I always went for the laugh to make it bearable.

  8. I think I may give this a try. We re big rice eaters over here but I never get too creative. I add the orzo but that’s about it. The picture looks yummy.

  9. Sounds like the kind of dish I like to make! Still working on getting my daughter to eat veg mixed with things but at least she does like tomatoes 🙂

  10. […] did manage to write about one new favourite in our house – an easy tomato rice pilaf. We’ve made it several times now, each time increasing the amount of tomatoes and always […]

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