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Georgette’s Really Lemony Greek Pilafi

Greek Lemon Rice Pilafi(Updated and added to Recipe Favorites April 2009) I was thrilled when I learned to make Pilafi (Greek Lemon Rice) from my friend Georgette because it was one of many Greek dishes I’d always loved in restaurants. Georgette recommended Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice to make this, and I was thrilled again when I learned that Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice is a low-glycemic type of rice, even though it’s white rice. Apparently the “converting” of the rice (parboiling) removes some of the starch and makes it slower to digest than regular white rice.

I made this rice over and over when I first started eating the South Beach Diet way, and it’s still one of my very favorite side dishes. In fact, I have a plastic container of rice in my cupboard with this recipe written on the side with a sharpie marker, that’s how often I make it! Don’t be put off by the package directions for a cooking time that is much shorter than this recipe indicates, trust me and cook it at very low heat for the length of time that Georgette recommends.

Georgette’s Really Lemony Greek Pilafi
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe from Georgette, who probably learned to make it from her Greek mother!)

1 cup Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice (not instant)
2 T olive oil (or 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil)
1 tsp. salt
3 T lemon juice (or more)
3 C chicken stock (stock should be hot or boiling when you add to rice)

Start heating stock in a separate pan, or heat in microwave so it’s very hot or boiling. Use a heavy pan with a tight fitting lid. Saute rice in olive oil for 2 minutes., stirring often so it doesn’t brown too much. Add salt and lemon juice to rice and saute 1 minute more.

Add chicken stock slowly and carefully so it doesn’t splash up on you, and let it come to a boil. Then reduce heat to the lowest you can get it and still keep the liquid boiling and cook 30 minutes without peeking at all.

After 30 minutes you are allowed to peek to see if all the liquid is absorbed. If not cook a few more minutes until it has. I find it usually takes 35 minutes, but I can’t keep myself from peeking after 30 minutes.

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South Beach Suggestions:

This rice side dish would be phase two or three for the South Beach Diet. If you can’t find Uncle Ben’s rice, another low-glycemic white rice is Basmati Rice.

More Rice Side Dish Options:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Greek-Inspired Leftover Brown Rice Casserole with Red Pepper, Onions, and Feta
Basil and Parmesan Rice with Pine Nuts
Brown and Wild Rice with Pine Nuts and Thyme
Brown Rice Pilaf and Variations from Karina’s Kitchen
Vegan Brown and Wild Rice Pilaf from Book of Yum
Anbari Rice Pilaf from Desert Candy
(Want even more rice pilaf recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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36 comments on “Georgette’s Really Lemony Greek Pilafi”

  1. Nice!
    Where are my low-carb chocolate chip cookies? 🙂

  2. Is it me, or did you change your banner? It looks great!

  3. Kalyn, how would I sub regular rice in this recipe?

  4. I’d just look on the rice package to see the amounts of rice and liquid and adjust the amounts as needed. I’m guessing the cooking time might be a less for some types of rice, so check the package for that too.

  5. I’ve never had Uncle Ben’s Rice so I had no idea if it was a brand name or if it had its own characteristics, like white versus brown versus wild, long versus short…

    Thanks SO much!

  6. Hi Kayln,
    Cooked the lemony greek pilaf and it tasted great but I’m wondering if 2 cups of water might work better, instead of 3. My rice was delish, but more like a risotto. Thanks, Jenny

  7. Jenny, I liked the way Georgette makes this so much that I wrote the recipe and instructions on the lid of a plastic container I store my rice in. I got the container down to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake in the recipe. No, it is 1 cup rice and 3 cups chicken stock. I’ve made it many, many times from the recipe written on that lid so I know it works for me. Did you saute the rice first and then cook it the full 35 minutes? I’m not sure what else would make a difference unless it was a different type of rice. Of course if you want to use less liquid next time, go for it.

  8. Hi Kalyn,
    I was trawling the internet for good souvlaki recipes and found yours, then was looking around for a good side dish to go with it and found you again!

    I was just wondering with this recipe, would I be able to do the chicken stock part of it in a rice cooker? I’ll be making it at my boyfriend’s house and he doesn’t have a heavy bottomed pan that would be suitable. I can saute it in a regular saucepan and such, but the part with the chicken stock just won’t work as his saucepan doesn’t have a lid.

    Thanks in advance,

  9. Lauren, I don’t really know for sure. I think it should work, but I haven’t used rice cookers that much. You can cook rice in stock in the rice cooker though, right? So it should be okay.

    It might be helpful for you to know that the cooking time for this recipe is quite a bit longer than it says on the package for converted rice, but it does take that long. Not sure how you would adapt that for a rice cooker though. Love to hear how it turns out.

  10. In St Louis I had a friend who only used Uncle Ben’s but I’ve never tried it. I very much like the lemon idea.

  11. Tanna, supposedly Julia Child used Uncle Ben’s Rice, but that could be an urban legend. I’d describe it as slightly chewier than regular white rice. I like it a lot, but then I like every type of rice!

  12. This sounds simple and very tasty Kayln. I could just substitute the stock for a veggie one. I usually have rice plain, but this sounds much better.

  13. Holler, veggie stock would be great in this. I love this rice, hope you like it.

  14. This looks great – I wish I had seen this BEFORE we made dinner last night! It would have been perfect with the greek chicken kebabs with feta-mint sauce . . .Oh well, next time!

  15. I love recipes that are this tasty and promise to be so tasty! Sounds like a great weeknight side.

  16. i’ve never heard of converted rice.. thanks for sharing!

  17. This pilaf sounds simple and delicious- a go-with-everything side dish. Greek flavors are perfect for summer.

  18. Ciaoo!! Very very nice!!! Kiss from Italy

  19. Hmmmm…very similar method to my greek rice. Can’t say I have ever used Uncle Bens…ever actually. But I can certainly try. I am afraid I am a convert to Basmati rice and rarely step outside of that type unless making sushi or something. Oh…well…I will recant…cause lately the ‘boys’ are asking for only wildrice mix. Hmm….for a supper, wildrice, mushroom and lemon/garlic? Sounds good to me. Great post there

  20. I guess regular parboil rice would work here don’t you think?

  21. Glad people are liking the sound of this. One of my favorite side dishes ever. I’ve made it over and over.

    Maya, I think any type of white parboiled rice would work just fine.

  22. Yum, looks good – lemon always freshens things up!

  23. I didn’t even know rice was on a low glycemic diet.

  24. Josh loves lemon rice, I will have to make this for him.

  25. Kerstin, agreed!

    Susan, oh yes. Brown rice is very good, and Uncle Bens and basmatic are both pretty good for white rice.

    Maria, I just knew that man had good taste!

  26. Ahh, nice to see Georgette’s dishes here and there. As you, us Greeks love our lemons.

  27. That’s really interesting – that parboiling lowers the glycaemic index of the rice… Either way, the dish sounds delicious and just right for early spring.

  28. This sounds good and I’m not much of a rice fan. I am, however, a lemon fan.

    I usually cook 1 part rice to 2 parts liquid for about 20 minutes. The extra cup of liquid would probably be absorbed during the extra cooking time.


  29. I want to try this but I’m quite set in my ways about rice so I can’t bring myself to use Uncle Ben’s rice or cook it in a different way from how my grandmother taught me. 🙂 I’ll give this a go and post the results and link to you some time soon if that’s ok? 🙂

  30. I seem to be getting even worse than usual about replying to comments, but I’m reading them all. Murasaki would love to see what kind of variation of this you’d come up with using a more Asian type rice.

  31. Kalyn,please..how many pounds did you gain on your weight with the last month rcipies? I love rice but I can not even think of it since I started low carbing.

  32. Nari, I do eat this type of thing all the time, except when I’m doing phase one every so often. South Beach is not a low carb diet, so my body is used to eating a certain amount of carbs. I’m careful to choose things that South Beach considers to be “good carbs.” This is a low glycemic type of rice that’s good for South Beach dieters.

  33. Great recipe! My kids who don't like rice much loved it. I made it with brown rice and it turned out great.

    (DK, glad you liked it! I tried to publish this comment from the iPhone, but must have hit reject instead of publish, sorry it was so slow to show up here! Kalyn)

  34. I plan on making this rice and greek chicken and your tzatziki this holiday weekend for about 8 people and was wondering if doubling the recipe works or should I make 2 batches as written?

  35. Joan, I haven't made a double batch, but I am guess it would work. It reheats well, so you could make one batch ahead and then a second batch the next day.

    Lately I have been using slightly less stock in this and cooking for slightly shorter time to get a more chewy rice.

  36. Thanks. I may decide to do a double batch using 5 cups of stock but doubling all the other ingredients. I'll let you know how it comes out.

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