Rice-A-Roni is a memory from my childhood.
We didn’t have it very often. My mom rarely made dinner from a box; I remember nearly every meal being homemade from scratch.
She also spoiled us with what, in some ways, could be called a homemade version of Rice-A-Roni: rice pilaf. I remember my mom’s rice pilaf being full of wonderful textures from the wild rice medlies she’d use.
The dish I’m sharing today isn’t exactly Rice-A-Roni—there’s no pasta in it, and it’s technically not rice pilaf either. It falls somewhere in between. But the taste and textures here are—for me—so reminiscent of both dishes that I’m borrowing the name of everyone’s favorite San Francisco Treat.
My Rice-A-Roni is healthy, filling, and full of flavor. This is largely due to the seared Brussels sprouts. Next to roasting Brussels sprouts, searing is my favorite way to enjoy this underrated veggie. The seared Brussels sprouts in this dish add great texture, and help make this a one-bowl meal. Crispy potatoes and leeks also bring amazing texture and a caramelized flavor to the dish.
I used a rice medley from Trader Joe’s for the photos here, but I’ve made this Healthy Rice-A-Roni with other rice medlies, and it always works.
Just follow the directions for cooking on the package of whatever rice you use. If you’re ok with there being less texture, you could also make this Healthy Rice-A-Roni solely with white rice or brown rice. It’ll be better with some sort of medley, but use what you can find.
Make This Healthy Rice-A-Roni!
Did I mention this Healthy-Rice-A-Roni is vegan? The Parmesan at the end of the recipe is delicious, but optional.
And depending on the rice medley you use, this meal also gluten-free.
Make my Healthy-Rice-A-Roni for a delicious, healthy twist on a nostalgic dish.
One Thing: My Store!
Healthy Rice-A-Roni with Seared Brussels Sprouts
For the rice:
- 2 cups rice medley, from Trader Joe's or whatever rice medley you can find
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
For the Brussels sprouts:
- 16 oz Brussels sprouts, halved
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
For the potatoes:
- 4-6 small potatoes OR 2-3 large potatoes, unpeeled and cubed to ½ inch pieces (I prefer to use Yukon Gold or Red potatoes)
½tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the leek:
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 leek, chopped (or onion if you can't find leeks)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ⅓ cup Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for serving (Parmesan is optional; omit to keep this meal vegan)
Cook the rice
- Add the rice, vegetable broth, olive oil, salt, and garlic powder to a large pot. Turn the heat on to medium-high, and bring the broth to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, and bring the rice to a simmer. Cover the pot, and let the rice simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, but not mushy.
- When the rice finishes cooking, turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
Sear the Brussels sprouts
- While the rice cooks, sear the Brussels sprouts. Add the sprouts to a large skillet, and arrange the sprouts so that the flat side of each sprout is face-down in the pan.
- Turn the heat on to medium, and sprinkle ¼ tsp salt and 1 Tbsp olive oil over the sprouts. Sear until the sprouts begin to turn bright green on top, and the side that is face-down in the pan starts to brown, about 3-5 minutes.
- Now flip each sprout so the round side is face-down in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ tsp salt and 1-2 Tbsp more olive oil over the sprouts, and sear another 3 minutes, until this side of each sprout also starts to brown.
- Sprouts are done, set aside.
Cook the potatoes and leek
- You can cook the potatoes and leek in the same skillet you used for the Brussels sprouts. Add the potatoes, ½ tsp salt, and 2 Tbsp olive oil to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally, to keep the potatoes from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- After 5 minutes, add the leek, garlic, ½ tsp salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir to incorporate. Cook for 5 more minutes over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low.
- Add additional oil, or a few Tbsp of water, if the pan gets dry, and cook for another 5 minutes. The potatoes will be cooked through and crisped on the outside, while the leek will be transparent.
Put it all together and serve!
- Once each component finishes cooking, add everything to the large pot you cooked the rice in, including the ⅓ cup Parmesan, if using.
- Mix it all together, and serve. Garnish each serving with additional Parmesan, if desired.