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A close up of a spoonfull of Italian rice being taken from a dish.
5 from 10 votes

Easy Italian Rice

This Italian-style rice dish is packed with punchy flavours of basil and tomato in classic combination. A tasty side dish to lift any meal, this fluffy pilaf sports the colours of the Italian flag.  
Servings: 6 people (as a side)
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins


Stovetop Method

  • 2 tsp olive oil - I use the oil from the sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup long grain rice - 200 g
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or broth - just under 500 ml
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • salt and pepper - to taste
  • fresh basil - to garnish

Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker Method

  • All ingredients as above except from the stock or broth, which is halved to one cup / 240 ml.


Stove Top Method

  • Peel and chop the onion and garlic.
  • Put the oil in a pan – I like to use a shallow casserole dish with a well fitting lid. Add the onion with some pepper and salt. Sauté over a low heat,stirring all the time. After a couple of minutes, add the garlic. You want the onion just starting to turn golden. his will take about 4–5 minutes.  
  • Add the rice. Stir and cook for a minute, so that the grains are coated with the oil. 
  • Pour the stock over the rice. Then add the pesto and sun-dried tomatoes and stir through. (If using fresh pesto, leave it out and add at the end of cooking.) Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Then put the lid on the pan securely. Cook on the lowest heat for 18 minutes.  
  • After 18 minutes, take the pan off the stove top and leave for another 5 minutes to rest. 

Instant Pot / Electric Pressure Cooker Method

  • Set the sauté function. Add the oil, chopped onion and garlic, and some pepper and salt. Then fry, stirring all the time until the onion is golden. 
  • Cancel sauté. Add the rice in and stir so it is coated with the oil. Give it a gentle fry for a minute. There will be more than enough residual heat in the pot. 
  • Add the rest of the ingredients – the stock, pesto and sun dried tomatoes. Give everything a good stir, making sure there are no burnt bits on the bottom of the pot.  
  • Put the lid on the pot and seal. Pressure cook on high for three minutes, leaving 'keep warm' switched on. After cooking, allow natural pressure release (NPR) for 18 minutes. Release any remaining pressure (there will be very little, if any) before removing the lid. 
  • Fluff the rice and serve. 


  • I cook rice in a heavy cast-iron casserole dish or Dutch oven. Any heavy sauce pan will do.
  • Use a pan with a lid that fits. If the lid doesn't fit properly, some of the steam will escape. This can result in dry rice. If the lid isn't tight, add an extra spoonful of water.
  • Cook on the lowest heat. If necessary, use a stove top heat diffuser or simmer ring. These cost very little and will last and last.
  • Don't peek. Let the rice do its thing. If you let the steam escape, it will alter the rice to water ratio.
  • To make this dish even faster, chop up a double batch of onion and garlic, pop in a plastic tub, and freeze. You can then fry the onion from frozen the next time you make it.
  • Add more vegetables. I am a huge fan of adding as much Extra Veg as you can to a meal. Aubergine is an excellent addition here (add in diced aubergine at the start), or peas and corn - simply defrost, heat and stir through before you serve.
  • Once cold pack leftovers into plastic tubs and store in the fridge and use within 48 hours. Reheat until piping hot all the way through before serving.    
  • Leftovers can also be frozen, defrost and again ensure that are hot throughout before serving. 
  • Quantities for Instant Pot / electric pressure cooker can be increased, but not reduced. 
Nutritional Information 
  • This recipe is 9 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion 
• Please note that the nutrition information provided below is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
• Unless stated otherwise cup conversions have been made with an online tool. For accuracy please check with your favoured conversion tool. We recommend buying inexpensive digital kitchen scales.
Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 550mg | Potassium: 164mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 423IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 1mg