Seafood loves lemon, and it loves dill. If you've been looking for a new side dish to dress up your pescatarian main courses, this Mediterranean Basmati Rice with lemon and dill will be just the ticket!
It's no secret that rice is a great side dish for both vegetarian and seafood meals. We've already tackled Middle Eastern Yellow Rice, Garlic Brown Rice and Quinoa, Mexican Red Rice and even Crispy Rice for Sushi.
This rice recipe is light, fluffy and full of flavor. I make it at least twice a month and it never disappoints!
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe:
Before we get to the step by step directions, a few notes about the ingredients:
Basmati rice: the ideal long grain rice for this recipe. Substitute Jasmine, if needed. You can use this seasoning combination on any style of rice, but for fluffy grains, you'll want a long-grain variety.
Vegetables: finely diced celery and yellow onion are my flavor combo of choice, but this is flexible. Use leeks, garlic, fennel, scallions or a combination of all of the above.
Lemon & herbs: we use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest in our Mediterranean rice, as well as a pile of fresh dill. Substitute chives, basil, flat leaf parsley or even tarragon. Lime juice and zest are a good sub for lemon, but reduce a bit as lime is more aggressive.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions:
1. Sauté aromatics
To begin, dice your onion and celery very fine. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot with a tight-fitting lid. When hot, add diced onion, celery and ½ teaspoon salt.
2. Add rice
Sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add your cup of basmati rice to the pan. Toss the rice in the hot oil and veggies, coating the grains in the olive oil.
3. Add stock
Add 1 ½ cups of vegetable stock and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. (Note: older rice often needs a bit more stock or cooking liquid to get tender. If you're unsure, add an extra tablespoon of stock or so to the pan.)
4. Simmer until tender
Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower to a simmer over low heat and cover the pot. Cook 13-15 minutes, or until all liquid is evaporated and the rice is tender. Remove from heat. Leave the top on the rice and let it steam for another 5-6 minutes off the heat.
5. Garnish and serve
Stir fresh dill and lemon zest into the cooked rice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Garnish with additional lemon zest, lemon slices and dill for serving.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions:
White basmati rice is the best kind of rice in this recipe - it's my usual every-day cooking rice at home and it creates reliably fluffy and delicious dishes. The grains are long and slender, and the rice gives off a floral, nutty flavor and smell. That said, Jasmine rice and a regular long grain rice would also work in this recipe. I haven't made this dish using brown basmati, but I've never had a problem substituting brown basmati for plain basmati in a recipe, so I expect it would work well. Just be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the bag, as brown rice may need additional liquid and cooking time.
Basmati rice is a long grain rice and is more aromatic than white rice. Regular white rice is a slightly shorter grain rice that is more starchy and has a chewy texture. It is not as fragrant as basmati rice and has a more neutral flavor.
Lemon zest packs a big lemon punch, without all the acidity. It's perfect in this dish, but lemon zest can become bitter under extended heating. So it's ideal when added at the end of cooking. And fresh dill loses a lot of its flavor when heated, so keep the green stuff fresh!
This is a great recipe to serve with all of your favorite seafood mains. My favorite options would be Baked Grouper, Panko Cod, Salmon Patties with Crackers or Grilled Whole Fish with Olive Herb Sauce.
Fresh chives or fresh flat leaf parsley would add light, earthy flavors to the dish and would both complement the fresh dill.
If you're cooking for non-pescatarians then chicken stock, preferably low sodium chicken broth, is the best option. If skipping stock altogether, use 1 ½ cups of water and an additional ¾ teaspoon of coarse kosher salt, then taste the water once added to the pan to test for flavor. It should be a little too salty, so when the rice cooks, it will be properly seasoned in the final dish.
To store leftover rice, transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, add a tablespoon of stock or water and heat in microwave or stovetop.