Lebanese vermicelli rice (riz b sha’riyeh) is a simple three-ingredient Middle Eastern staple made with rice and vermicelli pasta. This recipe is easy to make and is so versatile that you can enjoy it as the perfect Mediterranean rice pilaf side dish.
Traditional Lebanese rice is buttery and flavorsome, making it a favorite Middle Eastern side dish. Once you learn how to cook vermicelli rice, you will prefer this to traditional rice. The best part: Lebanese rice recipe is vegan-friendly.
What Is Vermicelli Rice?
Wondering what vermicelli rice pilaf is? You are in the right place. Lebanese vermicelli rice uses long-grain white rice, vermicelli noodles, and olive oil.
This Lebanese rice pilaf is a standard (and the most popular) side dish in the Middle East. You can serve it as a base for stews or several meat dishes. It is fluffy, nutty, and versatile. Learning how to cook vermicelli rice is a Middle Eastern staple.
To jazz things up, you can top the Lebanese rice with pine nuts, blanched almonds, or just about any toasted nuts. Garnishing with parsley is an excellent idea for another layer of flavor and a pop of color.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Customizable – There are three basic ingredients to prepare this Lebanese rice recipe. However, you can easily change it by adding almonds, nuts, or herbs.
- Delicious – The rice is nutty, toasty, and flavorful, even with a short ingredient list. You will not regret switching up from plain rice.
- Versatile - Rice with pasta is so simple to prepare, it’s vegan-friendly, there is no dairy, and it complements everything.
- Long-grain white rice - 2 cups: Long-grain, enriched white rice is standard. I love it because the rice comes out fluffy and soft.
- Water - 4 cups
- Vermicelli - ½ cup: It is a thin noodle similar to angel hair pasta; you will need to break the vermicelli into little pieces for this. Vermicelli is in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores. If you cannot find it, use angel hair pasta. They are almost identical.
- Olive oil - 2 tablespoons: olive oil is a Middle Eastern staple and pairs perfectly with rice.
- Salt – Pinch: rings out the flavor.
- Garnish Options - Toasted pine nuts. Toasted almonds. Parsley.
Making the Middle Eastern rice recipe is so easy. Just follow the steps mentioned below:
Step One - Prep (Optional): Rinse the rice to remove dirt, chemicals, and excess starch. I like to let the rice sit in water for five minutes. I drain the water and rinse it 2 - 3 times after soaking it. This step helps to make the rice fluffier. Set the rice aside.
Step Two - Vermicelli: Break the vermicelli into small pieces, about 1 inch in length. Take a medium-sized saucepan and heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the vermicelli rice and frequently stir (almost continuously) till the vermicelli is a dark golden color.
Step Three - Rice: After the vermicelli reaches the desired color, add the rice to the saucepan. Mix thoroughly and add four cups of water, olive oil, and salt. Let the water come to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the Lebanese vermicelli rice, and cook it for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Garnish as desired.
Some popular alternates for vermicelli include:
- Angel Hair Pasta: Otherwise called Capelli d’angelo, it is a long and thin pasta. This is an excellent substitute for vermicelli because it cooks quickly and blends well in this rice dish.
- Rice Vermicelli - Unlike vermicelli, which is made with durum wheat, rice vermicelli is made with water and rice flour. For Lebanese rice pilaf, you will use the alternative similarly, and it is an excellent choice if you want to avoid durum wheat.
- Spaghettini - It is a thicker pasta compared with angel hair pasta. Using this ingredient will not overpower this Middle Eastern rice recipe.
- Spices – If you like to spice things up, popular sices include ground cinnamon, cardamom pods, or other spices you enjoy.
Tips for Making Perfect Rice with Pasta
Follow these tips to make perfect Lebanese rice every time:
- Avoid using short-grain rice. Long-grain rice does not get clumpy and is better for this dish.
- Cautiously toast the vermicelli – Keep an eye on it because it can quickly go from a golden brown to a burn. If it burns, discard the batch and start over.
- Stir vermicelli often for even toasting – Apart from having the perfect golden hue; you should toast your vermicelli evenly. It balances the flavor and evenly brings out the toasted flavor.
- Cook the rice with vermicelli for a minute before adding water. This step reduces the risk of clumping and gives the rice a toasted flavor.
- Fluffy Texture - When the rice is thoroughly cooked, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes. After that, fluff it with a fork.
What to Serve with Arab Rice
Serving suggestions are varied. However, the typical dishes include the following:
- Lebanese kidney bean stew (fasolia) is super easy to make and filling, making this an ideal combination with Lebanese rice.
- Lebanese Okra Stew (bamia) that is cooked in tomato sauce
- Lebanese Spinach Stew (sabanekh wa riz) – This lovely, light spinach stew pairs well with vermicelli rice.
- For an Indian twist, serve arab rice with chicken tikka masala, Cajun shrimp, lentil dahl, kidney bean curry, coconut chicken curry, and butter chicken.
- For a Nigerian twist, serve Lebanese rice with Nigerian jollof, a one-pot, tomato, and pepper-infused rice with a crispy layer at the bottom. It takes only 30 minutes to make!
Frequently Asked Questions
Vermicelli is a thin noodle, which is similar to spaghetti. However, the diameter is much lighter. Given the thinness, vermicelli can be easily mixed in rice. An alternative is angel hair pasta; the two are very similar.
The main difference between rice and rice pilaf is the cooking method and the flavor. Regular rice is typically cooked, baked, or steamed with plain water; however, rice pilaf is browned in butter. By definition, a pilaf is sautéed with aromatics before being cooked in broth. Pilaf generally has a nutty flavor and is known as seasoned rice when additional spices are added.
For each cup of cooked rice, scatter a tablespoon of water over the vermicelli rice and put it in an oven or microwave until warm.
Yes, you can. Fry the vermicelli, and add the brown rice/water amount based on package instructions.
Storing Lebanese vermicelli rice is easy. You must ensure the rice cools before storing it in an airtight container. An airtight container will ensure that the rice does not dry out. Any leftovers can stay fresh in the fridge for 3-5 days. You can also freeze it for two months in the freezer.
Lebanese Rice Pilaf with Vermicelli
- ½ cup vermicelli broken into one inch pieces
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 4 cups water*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch salt
- Garnish suggestions - Toasted pine nuts. Toasted almonds. Parsley.
- Step One - Prep: Let the rice soak in cold water for five minutes. Rinse and set aside.2 cups long grain white rice
- Step Two - Vermicelli: Heat olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the vermicelli rice and frequently stir (almost continuously) till the vermicelli is a dark golden color.½ cup vermicelli broken into one inch pieces, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 pinch salt, 4 cups water*
- Step Three - Rice: After the vermicelli reaches the desired color, add the rice to the saucepan. Add the water. Let it comes to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Garnish as desired.Garnish suggestions - Toasted pine nuts. Toasted almonds. Parsley.