RECIPES:
Apr 28, 2024

Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
This vibrant dish can be served as a side alongside chicken or fish or as a vegetarian entrée. 
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This springy dish combines rice pilaf with a nutty pistachio pesto made with the addition of spinach and herbs. I top the rice with sliced sugar snap peas and garnish with torn pieces of creamy burrata cheese. Pilaf is a rice dish where the rice is cooked in a broth flavored with onions, garlic, herbs and spices. It’s a staple of Middle, Eastern, Central Asian and South Asian cuisines. In this recipe I toast the rice in butter and sautéed onion and cook it in chicken stock. 

Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto

Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Rice – Toasting the grains of white rice in the butter enhances its flavor and gives it more of a nutty taste. This can also keep it from reducing as much starch in the cooking process.
  • Chicken stock – Cooking the rice in chicken stock instead of water adds a richer flavor to the rice. You can easily use vegetable stock in its place.  
  • Peas – I cook shelled English peas or frozen sweet peas in the pot with the rice, then slice sugar snap peas on top for a fresh crunch. 
  • Herbs – A combination of basil and parsley adds a bright green color and herby flavor to the pistachio pesto. 
  • Spinach – I like to try to sneak greens in wherever I can. I blanch spinach leaves with the herbs and blend them into the pesto sauce. 
  • Pistachios – Pistachios are actually the seed of a plant belonging to the cashew family rather than a nut. They come in shells which are easily peeled away to reveal mild, slightly soft and sweet meat. I recommend buying them already shelled to save time in this recipe. 

How to Make Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto

cooked shallots and toast rice for Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto
Step 1: Cook shallots and toast rice. 

Heat a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir briefly until grains are coated with the butter, cooking until the rice is a pale golden color, about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Cook rice pilaf. 

Stir in the chicken broth and shelled peas then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cover, lower the heat to medium low, then cook the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff the rice pilaf with a fork and season with salt. 

cooked rice pilaf
blanch spinach and herbs for Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto
Step 3: Blanch spinach and herbs.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, basil and parsley. Cook until wilted but the leaves are still bright green, about 1 minute. Remove the greens with tongs and place in a bowl filled with ice water.

Step 4: Combine pesto ingredients. 

Remove and squeeze to drain excess water. Add to a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Then add the pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and oil.

mix ingredients for pesto
pureed pesto
Step 5: Pulse pesto.

Puree until smooth then season with salt. Add in the Pecorino Romano, pulsing to combine. 

Step 6: Add pesto to rice. 

Add ½ cup (133g) of the pistachio pesto to the rice and continue to fluff until evenly combined. 

pesto and rice for Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto
assembled Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto
Step 7: Assemble and serve. 

Divide the rice among serving plates. Top with the sliced snap peas, radish and burrata. Serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

Swaps and substitutions 
  • The shallots can be swapped with diced yellow onion if needed. 
  • You can use a combination of rice and orzo or just rice for the pilaf. 
Serving suggestions 

Serve this spring rice pilaf on its own or paired with these other recipes from chicken to steak: 

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this rice pilaf recipe, give these a try and follow me on Instagram for more updates: 

Spring Rice Pilaf with Pistachio Pesto

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup shelled english peas, frozen or fresh
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup raw shelled Pistachios
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced on the bias
  • 2 medium radish, shaved
  • 8 ounces burrata, torn into pieces

Instructions:

  • Heat a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, add the butter and allow to melt. Add shallots and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Add rice and stir briefly until grains are coated with the butter, cooking until the rice is a pale golden color, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the chicken broth and shelled peas then bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Cover, lower the heat to medium low, then cook the rice until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff the rice pilaf with a fork and season with salt.
  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the spinach, basil and parsley. Cook until wilted but the leaves are still bright green, about 1 minute. Remove the greens with tongs and place in a bowl filled with ice water.
  • Remove and squeeze to drain excess water. Add to a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Then add the pistachios, garlic, lemon juice and oil.
  • Puree until smooth then season with salt. Add in the Pecorino Romano, pulsing to combine.
  • Add ½ cup (133g) of the pistachio pesto to the rice and continue to fluff until evenly combined.
  • Divide the rice among serving plates. Top with the sliced snap peas, radish and burrata. Serve immediately.

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