Once a month we’re featuring a new family-friendly dish from the Hatfields for our Kids Can Cook section. The dairy-free teen cooking star is Katherine and this week she’s made mom’s homemade rice a roni for the first time. Her mom, Sarah, has the pictures and details for us …
This homemade rice a roni, or turkey rice pilaf as we also call it, is a recipe I published on my first blog in April of 2009. It’s been a springtime staple ever since. I don’t know why, exactly. It’s a recipe that can easily be made any time of year. But I find myself making it often this time of year for end-of-preschool potlucks and Mother Daughter Banquets. It’s a dairy-free main dish that can also serve as a side dish, it doesn’t have to be served piping hot, and it makes a ton. When I cook it at home it makes enough for two dinners for the six of us, when served with vegetables on the side.
At the time I first made this recipe, then seven-year old Katherine asked for the recipe so she could cook it at her house someday. I told her she wouldn’t have to wait that long.
Last night, Katherine, now a young teen, made this homemade rice a roni by herself, and said, “This is so easy! We should make it more often.” Her only words of advice to other cooks are: stir the dry rice and spaghetti carefully so they don’t flip out of the pan, and be patient because they take longer to brown than you might expect.
Young home cooks of almost any age can break the spaghetti into pieces and help measure the rice, margarine, and bouillon or broth. School-age helpers can learn how to chop an onion and complete most or all of the steps with an adult or teenage helper.
Special Diet Notes: Homemade Rice a Roni
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, optionally soy-free, optionally vegan / plant-based, and optionally vegetarian. It can even be top food allergy-friendly!
To note, we like Sarah and Katherine’s homemade rice a roni recipe for a couple of reasons. First, several store-bought varieties of Rice-a-Roni do contain milk. Second, even if certain flavors don’t contain dairy, they do contain many additives and processed ingredients. With this easy recipe, you can choose what ingredients you and your family eat!
- 1 lb ground turkey (can sub beef or tempeh, or leave it out)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
- 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (gluten-free, if needed), broken into one-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) dairy-free buttery spread or sticks
- 4 cups dairy-free beef bouillon broth or beef broth (can sub chicken, mushroom or vegetable broth)
- Salt, to taste (optional)
- Black pepper, to taste (optional)
- Freshly chopped parsley (optional)
- Hot sauce (optional), for serving
- Brown the turkey (or other protein) and chopped onion in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Drain and place in a bowl.
- Melt the buttery spread in the skillet over medium heat.
- Add the dry rice and spaghetti pieces, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown.
- They will brown unevenly, which is fine.
- Add the turkey, onion, and broth to the pan and stir.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice and spaghetti are fully cooked.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley, if desired. For a spicy kick at the table, serve with your family's favorite hot sauce.
Brown Rice Option: If using brown rice, you will need to extend the cooking time to 30-50 minutes.