Lemon Brown Rice Pilaf

Caramelized lemon slices give basmati rice just the right zing.

roasted lemons with brown rice pilaf

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I eat only whole-grain rice, particularly fragrant brown basmati. This pilaf shows off its nutty flavor, fluffy lightness, and versatility. Roasting the lemon slices brings out the flavor in the lemon zest while making it nice to eat, and caramelizing the fruit’s natural sugar gives the slices, and the rice, just the right zing.

Make it a meal: Serve this pilaf with grilled or broiled salmon, shrimp or other fish, or roasted chicken. For an almost vegetarian main course, mix in chopped steamed asparagus or sugar pea pods and cubed baked marinated tofu.

Lemon Brown Rice Pilaf
(Makes 6 servings)

roasted lemons with brown rice pilaf


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 lemon slices, ¼-inch thick
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • ½ medium onion, cut into thin crescents
  • 2 ½ cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line small baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In large saucepan, preferably wider than deep, place 1 teaspoon of oil. Add lemon slices and coat with oil. On prepared baking sheet, arrange coated lemon slices. Set saucepan aside.
  3. Roast lemons for 20 minutes, or until rind is golden brown in places. Thin sections of slices may blacken. Coarsely chop 2 lemon slices, then set all roasted lemon aside.
  4. Set saucepan over medium-high heat, and add remaining oil. Add rice, stirring to coat grains well. Spread rice to cover bottom of pot and cook stirring rice frequently, until rice is fragrant and lightly browned in places, then starts to crackle, 5 minutes. Add onions and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, 3 minutes. Pour in broth, add chopped lemon, and bring liquid just to boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover tightly and simmer for 20 minutes. Check to see if liquid is needed, adding ½ cup water. Continue cooking, covered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is fluffy but still slightly al dente. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fluff pilaf with a fork.
  6. To serve, spoon rice onto platter or into wide serving bowl and top with remaining lemon slices.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving:

Calories: 150
Total fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 0.5 g
Carbohydrate: 27 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 3 g
Sodium: 190 mg

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