Easy and Delicious Pesto Rice

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Learn how to make irresistibly flavorful pesto rice with this simple recipe. Perfect for a quick meal or a tasty side dish!

A plate of vibrant pesto rice topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and garnished with fresh basil leaves.
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Are you looking for a healthy, gluten-free carb fix? My pesto rice is a vegetarian delight you wouldn’t want to miss. Whether you’re a pesto aficionado or want to jazz up your rice, this recipe will get your taste buds dancing!

Rice is the perfect versatile grain to get creative, and I always have fun making recipes with it! For this one, I thought of pesto sauce as a tasty and equally versatile ingredient that would complement rice perfectly. Enjoy!

A bowl of vibrant pesto rice, adorned with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, elegantly sits on a white dish. A fork is placed in the bowl.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It gives you the wiggle room to get creative and choose your preferred pesto.
  • Ready in under 30 minutes. It is a quick and easy dish, especially on busy nights.
  • You can serve it as a side or main dish, pairing it with other veggies, proteins, and meat substitutes.
  • You can easily make a fully vegan or vegetarian dish by choosing which pesto sauce you use.
  • Not only is this dish hearty and filling, but it’s also made with healthful ingredients.
A plate of pesto rice topped with charred cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. A spoon is placed on the side of the dish.

Ingredient Notes

Rice: Rice easily absorbs the flavor of the pesto. It serves as an incredible blank canvas for strong flavors. I suggest using long-grain varieties, like basmati rice or jasmine rice.

Pesto: The pesto sauce dictates the flavors of this dish. For this recipe, you can use the classic basil pesto. Even store-bought pesto sauce is perfectly fine, but it’s best to make one from scratch if you have time. Try my oregano pesto recipe!

Salt: This deepens the flavor of your pesto rice. You can adjust how much salt you add based on your preferences.

A plate of flavorful pesto rice garnished with fresh basil leaves and grilled cherry tomatoes, served with a spoon and a gray-striped cloth napkin.

How to Make Pesto Rice

Close-up of a pan filled with uncooked white rice, topped with several clumps of vibrant green pesto sauce, creating a mouthwatering pesto rice dish.
A pot containing yellow-green broth with floating herbs, particles, and a hint of pesto rice is shown.
A close-up of a fork stirring savory pesto rice in a pan.
  • In a pot over high heat, add the cooked rice. Toast the rice, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the water and pesto. Stir well.
  • Once the rice is simmering, cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for two minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the rice with a fork.
  • Serve and enjoy!
A plate of green-hued pesto rice garnished with fresh spinach leaves and roasted cherry tomatoes. A fork is placed on the side of the dish.

Why Toast Rice?

Like toasting nuts and spices before cooking, toasting rice helps enhance and deepen its flavor. It helps create a rich, warm, and nutty flavor you won’t get otherwise.

As a bonus, toasting also removes the excess starch, so your rice won’t be too sticky or starchy once it cooks!

A plate of vibrant pesto rice is garnished with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, with a spoon on the side.

A Few Notes On Pesto

Pesto has a rich, vibrant flavor thanks to the fresh basil, nutty pine nuts, sharp Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. It’s versatile and can be used with pasta, sandwiches, dip, or soups. It’s also healthy, offering antioxidants, heart-healthy fats, and protein.

For ease, you can use a store-bought pesto if you prefer. But why stop there? Check out my pesto recipes that are just as healthy and tasty!

  • For a vegan alternative, try this tasty Vegan Walnut Pesto. This pesto is made with basil, kale, spinach, and nutritional yeast, which boasts a rich, nutty, and “cheesy” flavor you’ll love.
  • You can also try this Creamy Beet Pesto. It’s bursting with delicious flavor, thanks to the beets and garlic.
  • Not a fan of pine nuts or basil? Try out this equally punchy and tasty gluten-free Cilantro Pesto.
  • For a real creative twist, try my Hazelnut and Sage Pesto, which adds a real herbaceous nuttiness to this rice recipe.
A plate of pesto rice topped with charred cherry tomatoes and garnished with fresh basil leaves. A shiny fork rests on the edge of the plate, inviting a taste.

Serving Suggestions

  • Topped with blistered tomatoes. The rich, herby flavor of the pesto perfectly complements the slightly sweet and umami flavor of blistered cherry tomatoes. This is my favorite way to serve this dish!
  • Serve with roasted veggies. Roasted vegetables, like my roasted okra, have warm, toasty, and nutty flavors that complement pesto.
  • Try pesto rice with baked feta. The creaminess of feta cheese enhances the delicious flavor of your pesto ice.
  • Serve with vegan protein substitutes. For vegans and vegetarians, try creating pesto rice bowls by adding delicious crispy tofu or tempeh.
A white plate with green herb pesto rice, roasted cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves. A fork is placed on the side of the plate.

Storing Pesto Rice

Storing pesto rice in a glass container with an airtight lid is crucial to keeping it fresh for as long as possible.

If you store your pesto rice in the fridge, it can last three to five days. If you store it in your freezer, it can last up to three months.

Reheating this dish is easy. The most straightforward way is to put it in a pan and reheat it over the stovetop with some olive oil or vegan butter. Alternatively, you can reheat it in the microwave for around 30 seconds.

A plate of pesto rice garnished with basil leaves and topped with charred cherry tomatoes. A fork is placed on the edge of the dish.

You Might Also Love These Delicious Rice Recipes

Spicy Pineapple Rice

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

Best Vegan Biryani

Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup

A plate of vibrant pesto rice topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Pesto Rice

Learn how to make irresistibly flavorful pesto rice with this simple recipe. Perfect for a quick meal or a tasty side dish!
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Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Kristen Wood

Ingredients

  • 1 cup long grain white rice Basmati or Jasmine
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup pesto of choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • In a pot over high heat, add the rice. Toast the rice, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the water and pesto. Stir well.
  • Once the rice is simmering, cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to low.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for two minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the rice with a fork.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 589mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 625IU | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 1mg
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