Kid-friendly Fragrant Rice Pilaf Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
over 1,000 kid-approved recipes coming soon! save your flavorites
Recipe: Fragrant Rice Pilaf

Recipe: Fragrant Rice Pilaf

Fragrant Rice Pilaf

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by margouillat photo/
prep time
5 minutes
cook time
10 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

Skip to recipe

Fragrant Rice Pilaf

Lemon-infused rice with green onions and peas, this quick dish is a flavorful win! Pairs beautifully with a wide variety of main dishes, for example, Rocco’s Crispy Sweet Potatoes.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • boil :

    to cook a food in liquid heated to the point of gas bubbles and steam forming (boiling point is 212 F at sea level).

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

Equipment Checklist

  • Small saucepan + lid
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Small bowl
  • Zester (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon


Fragrant Rice Pilaf

  • 2 C water
  • 2 C instant white rice
  • 2 green onions
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 C frozen peas **(for LEGUME ALLERGY sub frozen carrots)**
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper

Food Allergen Substitutions

Fragrant Rice Pilaf

  • Legume: Substitute frozen carrots for frozen peas.


Fragrant Rice Pilaf

boil + chop

Measure 2 cups water and 2 cups instant white rice. Pour those into a small saucepan, turn the heat to medium, and cover with a lid. The rice will cook for approximately 5 minutes. Meanwhile, have your kids chop 2 green onions and place them in a small bowl.

zest + measure + mix

Zest 1 lemon and place that in the bowl with the green onions. Also, measure 1/3 cup frozen peas, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and add all of that to the same bowl. When the rice is finished steaming, pour all the ingredients from the small bowl into the pot with the rice.

sauté + serve

Sauté everything for 5 minutes and stir with a wooden spoon. Eat and enjoy! This dish pairs perfectly with Rocco's Crispy Sweet Potatoes (see recipe).

Surprise Ingredient: Peas!

back to recipe
Photo by R Khalil

Hi! I’m Peas!

"Hi, there! Let's see if you can guess what we are. We grow in shells; you might see us frozen in winter, fresh in spring, and canned all year round; and sometimes we're “split” and cooked in soup! You guessed it! We're Peas! We're good in salads, soups, casseroles, mixed with corn and other vegetables, and all by ourselves! We can be tricky to eat, but if we slide off your fork, you can spear us or use your knife to push us back on. Or, you might even try eating us with chopsticks!"


  • Peas in the wild are found in the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Archaeological evidence dates peas in Iraq and Turkey to 7,500 BCE. Domesticated peas were developed from wild peas starting in the late Neolithic Era (around 5,000 BCE). Peas are one of the oldest crops to be cultivated.
  • The oldest pea ever found was 3,000 years old and was discovered on the border of Burma and Thailand. 
  • During the Middle Ages, peas were a large part of people's diets in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. 
  • In the 17th and 18th centuries, peas started being picked when they were green and immature. In England, new cultivars or varieties of peas were developed that they called "garden" or "English" peas. 
  • Thomas Jefferson grew more than 30 pea cultivars at his Monticello estate in Virginia. 
  • Clarence Birdseye, known by many as the founder of the modern frozen food industry, was the first individual to freeze peas. 
  • The world record for the most peas eaten in an hour is 7,175 peas, held by Janet Harris of Sussex, England, in 1984. She ate one pea at a time with chopsticks!! 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Peas are members of the Fabaceae or Leguminosae family, commonly known as legumes, including peanuts, chickpeas, licorice, alfalfa, beans, carob, and soybeans. 
  • Peas are edible, usually green, round seeds that grow in a pod. The pea pods are technically a fruit because they have seeds and grow from a flower, but peas are eaten as a vegetable. 
  • Pea plants are annual plants, living for about one year. At the end of their life cycle, they can be cut back to the root, which decomposes, releasing nitrogen into the soil for the next crop of plants.
  • The singular term "pea" was back-formed in the mid 17th century by removing the "se" from the word "pease," which was mistakenly construed as a plural form. "Pease" came from the Old English "pise," from the Latin "pisum," from the Greek "pison."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • You can pick garden peas about three weeks after flowering. The pods of shelling peas or garden peas are inedible and will swell with the growth of the peas, becoming cylindrical before harvesting. 
  • Snow peas and sugar snap peas are edible pods ready to harvest about a week after flowering. The pods can be picked when they're about two to three inches long before they begin to swell and just as the seeds or peas begin to develop. 
  • For the best taste, you'll want to eat the peas as soon after harvesting as possible. Fresh peas will last in your refrigerator for up to one week. The more peas you pick, the more the plant will produce.
  • Frozen peas are almost as tasty as fresh ones because the growers freeze them within two and a half hours of being picked. Plus, they quickly thaw when added to hot foods.
  • You can cook and serve peas alone as a vegetable, with added butter and salt. You can also add them to various dishes, such as salads, soups, casseroles, and savory pies. Snow peas and snap peas are often used in stir-fries and Chinese cuisine. Peas can even be mashed and made into a sauce, a spread, or guacamole!


  • Peas are loaded with nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin K, niacin, folate, potassium, and beta carotene. These nutrients improve the body's digestive and immune systems, convert the carbohydrates we eat into energy, metabolize fats and protein, protect skin and eyes, and help prevent bleeding.


History of Rice Pilaf!

Photo by LightField Studios/

Pilaf (PEE-loff) is a rice dish that originated in Persia and traveled through the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. The dish is in Arabic cookbooks from the 13th century. The word "pilaf" is from the early 19th century, from the Turkish "pilâv," from the Persian "pilāv." It is also called "pilau" (PEE-law).

The difference between rice and pilaf is the cooking method and texture. For pilaf, uncooked rice is sautéed with spices and other aromatics, like onion and garlic, until the rice is lightly toasted before adding warm or hot stock or water, bringing to a boil, and simmering. The resulting rice should be light and fluffy with separate individual grains that do not stick together. 

Rice pilafs often include vegetables, meat, or nuts. Many variations exist throughout the world. Some pilafs use bulgur (cracked wheat) or orzo (rice-sized pasta) instead of rice.

Let's Learn About the Middle East!

Photo by Shutterstock
  • The Middle Eastern region sits in Western Asia and includes the following countries: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 
  • Several bodies of water border some of the countries, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Red Sea. 
  • People have lived in the Middle East for thousands of years, and they may speak one of the six major languages: Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Kurdish, Persian, or Turkish. In addition, there are about 20 minority languages in the region. It is common for Middle Eastern people to speak more than one language.
  • The total area is 2,782,860 square miles, and the population is over 371 million. Saudi Arabia is the biggest in size, but Egypt has the most people.
  • The climate is hot and dry, with little available water beyond several rivers, like the Nile and its delta and the watersheds of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. 
  • Family is very important to the people of the Middle East. Food culture is rich and varied, with many recipes and methods overlapping. 
  • Middle Eastern art forms are stunning. Think handmade carpets, henna, marbling, glazed tile works, pottery, motifs, and embroidery. 
  • A typical meal in the Middle East is meat, fish, or stew, and various vegetable dishes or salads. Meals are served with bread or rice and often start with a salad, appetizers, dip-like spreads such as hummus or baba ganoush, pickles, and bowls of olives, dates, and nuts. Middle Eastern meals are feasts!

The Yolk's On You

Did you hear the tall tale about rice? 

There wasn’t a grain of truth behind it!

The Yolk's On You

What do you call an angry pea? 

A Grump-pea!

THYME for a Laugh

What did one rice say to the other rice? 

"I hope I see you a-grain!"

The Yolk's On You

What do polite vegetables always say? 

Peas to meet you!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do vegetables wish for, more than anything else in the whole world? 

World Peas.

Shop Our Cookbooks

Now available on Amazon! Our cookbooks feature kid-tested recipes that build confidence in the kitchen. Expand your child's palate and spark a love of healthy foods with a Sticky Fingers Cooking cookbook.

Subscribe to the Sticky Fingers Cooking mailing list

Subscribe to our newsletter, The Turnip, to receive exclusive discounts and updates, insider tips + tricks from our awesome team, and instant access to the Sticky Fingers Cooking Starter Kit for free!

99% of schools invite us back year after year