A few weeks ago I was looking around for something different to do with rice and came across this recipe. Since I always have orzo on hand for adding to soups, I decided to make something similar. I was startled when I took a bite of it later: it tasted exactly like Rice-a-Roni. Which was surprising to me because I haven’t had Rice-a-Roni in over 20 years. I never would have thought I’d remember what it tasted like. In fact, I had forgotten Rice-a-Roni even existed. (Does it still exist?)

“Did your parents ever make Rice-a-Roni?” I asked Mark.

“No, why?” he asked.

“Because this tastes just like it.”

“I’ve never heard of Rice-a-Roni,” Mark claimed. “What is it?”

Well, I’ve never heard of not having heard of Rice-a-Roni, but I dropped the subject. But when we were washing dishes later, I started to sing, “Rice-a-Roni….”, and Mark chimed in happily, “the San Franciscan treat!”

“I thought you’d never heard of it,” I accused him.

“Well, now that you’re singing it, I know it. Whatever it was, it was awesome. Make it all the time.”

So, Mark, here I am making it all the time. Or every few weeks anyway. This is a quick and easy side dish. I’ll have no problem making it whenever Mark wants it.


1/2 cup orzo
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
3 or 4 scallions, white parts minced, green parts chopped, separated OR 2 tsp dried minced onions
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed OR 1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegan “chicken” broth
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
parsley – fresh would be awesome if you have it; dried if not

If using, chop the green part of the scallion, and mince the white part.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the orzo …

and stir to coat, …

… then saute until it’s beginning to turn golden.

Add the white part of the scallions or the minced onions and the garlic or garlic powder. It tasted a lot more like packaged Rice-a-Roni when I used the dried minced onions and garlic powder, by the way. Continue to saute until the orzo is completely golden.

Add the rice, broth, and soy sauce.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes or until all of the broth is absorbed. Stir in the green parts of the scallions, if using, and the parsley.

I served it with frozen veggies. JUST LIKE MOM USED TO MAKE! And a marinated and grilled Gardein chick’n scallopini, drizzled with sriracha. (Just like Mom never made!)

So, today is Tigger’s birthday. Look how nicely he poses for the camera! (This photo is particularly remarkable because I took it myself; it’s not as if there were someone behind the camera getting Tigger to look in that direction. He just knew to do it.) Tigger would let me hold him just like this for as long as I wanted, in fact, he begged me to. He’d even dance with me. Happy Birthday, Mr Sims. I miss you.


  1. Allysia Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 7:24 am

    Tiger is so handsome! Look at that dignified pose. πŸ™‚ And mmm, I remember being fed that stuff as a kid. This looks way more appetizing than my memories. And so simple! πŸ™‚

  2. Mom Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 8:30 am

    I think the correct phrase is ‘Rice-a-Ron, the San Francisco treat.’ They might still make it, but it probably has too much salt in it.

    Yeah, I have no idea of what ‘marinated and grilled Gardein chick’n scallopini, drizzled with sriracha’ is.

  3. Brandy Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    I love homemade rice a roni! I learned to veganize for my little sis. I make her homemade rice a roni and add dry uncheeze and broccoli, it is amazing how much it tastes like the “real” broccoli cheese variety ( I use the word real very cautiously because we all know there isn’t much that’s real about those boxes mixes LOL) My sis and I love reading your blog, everytime I go over for a visit, she wants me to make something off of your blog! She is 14 in a very meat loving house, so she is elated to have yummy things that everyone can enjoy right at the push of a button. Thanks!

  4. renae Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

    Brandy, I’ll have to try flavoring it with broccoli and dry uncheeze – that sounds great!

  5. meg Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    Well now that I’ve seen this post I know what I’m making with dinner tonight. Can’t wait – thanks for the recipe!

  6. Josiane Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

    Though I’ve never had Rice-a-Roni, now I really want to have your version! Hmm, and maybe that’s something even my very picky nephew would enjoy; yeah, I’ve got to try it on him! I’m off to put orzo and white rice (I only ever buy brown rice) on our grocery list. πŸ™‚
    The pic of Tigger and you is great!

  7. renae Said,

    April 2, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    Josiane, you can also use a long grain brown rice, like brown basmati. It might make it a little less Rice-a-Roni-ish, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

  8. FoodFeud Said,

    April 3, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

    Oh I used to love Rice a Roni – it is still around. Yours sounds a lot better!
    That’s quite a regal cat you got there πŸ™‚

  9. Jes Said,

    April 3, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

    I was hardcore in love with rice-a-roni & had totally forgotten about it till now! Wow…that’s so sad! Added to my list (& I have a bad feeling I’m going to love it too much) πŸ™‚

  10. Zoa Said,

    April 3, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Oh, I remember this, the streetcar, everything…in my mind at least Rice-a-Roni was a mixture of instant rice and noodles (duh, rice a[nd maca]roni…I’m only just getting it after all these years…), yeah, with broth and spices and stuff. It seems like back in the 70s everybody in North America ate all the same processed foods. Kraft processed cheese. Instant mashed potatoes. Hamburger Helper. Rice-a-Roni. But…the flavour can’t be beat. And your version looks scrumptious.

  11. Michelle Said,

    April 5, 2011 @ 4:18 pm

    I used to love Rice a Roni! I never thought about trying to make my own…duh. Yours sounds great! I’m going to have to make this…for sure. :o)

  12. Kevin Said,

    April 10, 2011 @ 11:49 pm

    Maybe I missed it, but when do you add the rice? At the same time as the orzo?

  13. renae Said,

    April 11, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

    You are right – I forgot the rice! Sorry about that – it goes in with the broth. I’ll update the post.

  14. Ksenia Said,

    April 11, 2011 @ 10:05 am

    Tigger looks so handsome! Our dog wasn’t the easiest subject to photograph, but sometimes she would look into the objective with pitiful eyes and a look that spoke for itself: “when are you going to let me sleep?”. We never had a dog or a cat after her and I couldn’t achieve even that look from my hamsters.

    I never heard about this recipe, but it sounds tasty. Oh, and I think you forgot writing about the rice in Rice-a-Roni in the steps πŸ˜‰

  15. ZoΓ© Said,

    April 12, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

    Had no idea what Rice-a-Roni is, but it looks simple and quick enough to try it on a busy evening.

  16. Ron Said,

    July 27, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

    A really easy way to make a rice-a-roni-like dish is to throw a package of Lipton onion soup into 1 cup of dry rice before cooking. Make sure, of course, to add extra water.

    It’s not as good as yours, of course, but it’s stupidly easy. πŸ™‚

  17. Jo Said,

    July 25, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

    Great Recipe — tastes just like the original and took me back to my childhood. Best part is that I had everything on hand — no items on the ingredient
    list that I couldn’t find at my local Food Lion.

  18. renae Said,

    July 25, 2012 @ 11:11 pm

    Glad you enjoyed it, Jo!

  19. Willow Said,

    March 13, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

    So last night I was looking at recipes I’ve bookmarked to try and came across this one. I had all the ingredients except orzo. So my husband picked up the orzo and I made it. AMAZING! It tastes JUST like it came from the box. I served it with Gardein scallopini I marinated in a spicy sauce and cauliflower because I really love steamed cauliflower. I can’t wait to make it for my big sister when she comes out to California from North Carolina to visit. Ok too much information for you but I am just SO excited about this recipe. Thank you thank you! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

RSS feed for comments on this post

Leave a Comment