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Romanian Rice – Vegetable Pilaf

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Romanian rice with vegetables or pilaf cu legume – vegan, quick, and comforting dish for any time of the year.

Romanian Vegetable Rice

A typical Romanian rice recipe often cooked during the Orthodox fasting time, but not only. This is the vegetarian or vegan version of chicken pilaf, one of the most popular Romanian dishes.

We used to eat lots of rice in my grandmother’s house in Romania, but never plain as a side dish for something else. I don’t even remember my grandmother ever cooking plain rice, I think it would never have occurred to her that people could actually eat and enjoy that.

Her rice was always cooked rather slowly and contained lots and lots of things. And it was never eaten as a side dish, we always had it as a main with some pickled vegetables or salad on the side.

Romanian Vegetable Rice

What do you need?


  • I use plain long-grain rice most of the time. However, you could use a round-grain sort as well.
  • The rice will be cooked for a longer time than you would probably expect. The reason for it is that this recipe is actually a pilaf recipe, and pilafs are soft, much softer than a regular rice dish.

One word of caution: like in the case of any pilaf/rice congee I have ever eaten, either Romanian style, Asian, or Middle Eastern style, the grains will be overcooked, they will be soft and you will even be able to squash with your spoon if you try.

No need to do that, I am just saying it, so you will get the picture better. Don’t think that there is something wrong with the recipe, there isn’t, the consistency is supposed to be like this and the dish is really comforting and delicious.


  • Here I am open to just about anything.
  • Use whatever you happen to have in the fridge, whatever you like or is in season.
  • For today’s recipe, I had carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and onions.
  • What I always use are onions, carrots, and peppers. You can stop there, just adjust the quantities – use a little more to make up for the rest.
  • Or you can add the mushrooms (fresh or from a can), tomatoes, zucchini, or eggplants.
  • A less Romanian option would be pumpkin or squash, they taste delicious.
  • If I happen to have it, I sometimes use a small wedge of roughly chopped cabbage.
  • Actually, this Romanian rice is a great way of using any kind of leftover vegetables you happen to have, anything goes.
Romanian Vegetable Rice

How to cook Romanian rice?

  • First, prepare all the vegetables, there is quite a bit of chopping involved.
  • In the meantime, preheat the oven.
  • Chop the onions and keep them separated from the rest, as you will cook them first.
  • Finely chop the garlic. Peel and slice the carrot, clean and chop the peppers into small strips.
  • Wipe the mushrooms clean with kitchen paper and slice them. If using canned ones, drain them well.
  • Cut the zucchini into strips or cubes as well.
  • If using tomatoes or/and eggplants, cube them. If using pumpkin or squash, peel, and cube. If using cabbage, chop it very roughly.
  • Wash the rice and let drain well in the sieve.
  • Cook the onions until translucent.
  • Add the chopped veggies and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add rice and paprika and stir for 1 minute. If you like some heat, add some hot paprika or red chili flakes as well.
  • Add the hot broth, stir, bring to a boil and cook on the stovetop for about 5 minutes. Taste and add some salt and pepper.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 20-30 minutes, without stirring.
  • The rice is done when all the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are very soft. The vegetables will all be at the top at the end of the cooking time. Either serve it like that or give the food a gentle stir before serving. Sprinkle with parsley.

Can you cook it on the stovetop?

Definitely. Leave the pot on the stove and cook on very low heat until the grains are soft.

Can you reheat it?

  • Yes.
  • Once cool, keep refrigerated for up to two days.
  • Reheat on the stovetop, preferably in a non-stick pan or pot. Stir often and add a splash of water or vegetable broth, if too dry.
Romanian Vegetable Rice

How to serve?

As a main dish with pickled vegetables, like hot peppers, pickled cucumbers or tomatoes, sweet and sour zucchini, pickled beetroot, and so on.

Or serve with cast-iron chicken breast or thighs, pork tenderloin, roasted chicken leg quarters, roasted chicken, or fish.

More Romanian rice recipes:

Romanian Chicken Pilaf

Vegan Tomato Rice

Chicken and Rice with White Sauce

Pork Chops with Vegetable Rice

Gypsy Pork Stew

vegan romanian rice served with a silver spoon

Romanian Rice – Vegetable Pilaf

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Romanian rice with vegetables or pilaf cu legume – vegan, quick, and comforting dish for any time of the year.


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 carrot, about 100 g/ 3.5 oz
  • 2 bell peppers, about 200 g/ 7 oz (one red, the second one can have a different color)
  • 250 g/ 8.8 oz mushrooms
  • 100 g/ 3.5 oz zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 250 g/ 8.8 oz/ 1 ¼ cup long-grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika powder (Note)
  • 750 ml/ 25.3 fl.oz/ 3 cups good-quality vegetable broth
  • fine sea salt and pepper
  • some chopped parsley


  1. Prepare the vegetables: finely chop the onions and set aside separately. Finely chop the garlic. Peel and slice the carrot, clean and chop the peppers into small strips. Wipe the mushrooms clean and slice them. Cut the zucchini into strips or cubes as well.
  2. Place the rice into a fine-mesh sieve, wash it and let it drain well.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Heat the oil in an oven-proof pot. Add the onions and cook them for a couple of minutes until translucent. Add the rest of the vegetables, stir well, and cook gently for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and the paprika powder, stir well and cook for another minute or so. Add the broth and cook the rice on the stove for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and place the pot in the preheated oven. Cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, without stirring.
  6. The rice is done when all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft (check). The vegetables will all be at the top of the rice at the end of the cooking time. Either serve it like that or give the rice a gentle stir before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with lots of parsley and serve with pickled vegetables, green salad, or cabbage salad.


You can add some hot paprika or red chili flakes if you want the dish to be spicier. But Romanian food is rarely spicy.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4 of the dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 218Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 836mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 5g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.


Monday 12th of October 2020

I love dishes like this where you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. the more color, the better. A gorgeous, healthy dish.


Monday 27th of March 2017

We've been eating a lot of rice dishes lately so I love finding another great recipe, especially one that has been passed down from generation to generation. One can't go wrong with grandma's rice. Looks yummy!

Karen (Back Road Journal)

Friday 24th of March 2017

We eat lots of rice and your recipe sounds very good. I think I'll make some tonight to go with grilled chicken.


Thursday 23rd of March 2017

Thanks for all the great tips Adina, I learned a lot today. This looks like such a tasty dish and your grandmother would be proud. I always enjoy hearing about your grandmother in your posts. Guess what? I might be in Romania this summer, in June. Yep. Not sure yet, but most of my family will be on a missions trip there and I'm thinking about coming too. We'll likely be in Bucharest. I know you are in Germany now, but maybe you have some suggestions of what to be sure to see while we are there? Hope all is well friend. XOXO


Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

Looks beautiful! Thank you for sharing with us your childhood memories.

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