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This simple rice blend recipe can be made with any long-grain rice in just a matter of minutes. It is full of flavor and can be made into a quick meal by just adding protein.

Growing up we often had Rice-A-Roni as a side dish. It was no surprise that I clung to this tradition as a new housewife. It was easy, quick, and never disappointed.

Unfortunately, when I began reading labels and moving towards all-natural ingredients, I quickly realized it was full of things I didn’t want to feed my family: hydrolyzed soy protein and MSG, among others.

At that point in my life, I put my childhood dinner favorite aside and simply made plain old rice. It did the job.

Fast forward many years later. Our family is now trying to become more food self-sufficient, yet time for making dinner is limited.

After an exciting adventure harvesting wild rice at a nearby lake, I came up with a recipe idea: Homemade Wild Rice-A-Roni. I’d recreate my childhood favorite, find an easy way to make use of our wild rice with a simple wild rice blend, and have an easy way to feed my family real healthy food.

Want to see how wild rice is harvested and see a video tutorial of this recipe? Check out this video!

What is wild rice?

If you are unfamiliar with wild rice, it’s actually not technically a rice at all, but a grain. And yes, it is gluten-free. It grows on what looks like long grass and can be found in Canada, parts of the Great Lakes, Texas, Florida, and the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It grows in rivers, streams, or lakes.

The variety we harvested is found in many local lakes. In our area of Wisconsin, most ricing is reserved for Native American tribes, but others are allowed to harvest rice in certain areas during a short harvest window in the fall. You also have to have a permit and there are restrictions about the size of your canoe so that you don’t damage the rice beds. 

How is wild rice harvested?

We were completely new to ricing when we decided to buy a canoe and head out into the marshes. There were a few other people on the lake at the time, so we mostly learned by watching what they were doing and trying to replicate their success.

I will say that the pros stand up and use long poles to push themselves along. We got by carefully using our oars and stopping often, but hopefully, after a few years of doing this and some better equipment, we’ll get better at it.

Basically, to harvest the rice you pull the stalks down towards you with your ricing sticks and then give them a tap to release any ripe rice heads, which then fall down into the boat. 

We just got dowels from our local farm store, but people who do this often have fancy ricing sticks. It was actually a very relaxing and enjoyable process, aside from all of the bugs that would fall down my shirt and climb up my legs as we went. 

After we felt like we had harvested enough for the day, we pulled our boat out and transferred the rice to bags. At home, we spread out the rice to let it dry and to remove some of the little worms that come with the rice. 

For the actual processing, we brought it to a local native family. We had considered doing it ourselves, but it sounded like a process that was better done by someone who knew what they were doing, although it might be something we learn how to do in the future. 

Once we got our processed wild rice back I then had to decide what to do with it. I had recently started making all of our pasta on a pasta machine and so I thought I would combine these two things and make homemade Rice-A-Roni.

Do I have to use homemade pasta?

Don’t worry, you don’t have to make your pasta from scratch to do this. Either way, you are just going to need some vermicelli or thin spaghetti noodles.

I have premade these noodles, dried them, and cut them into small pieces. You can just cut up your noodles and then any that you don’t use can be stored in an airtight container for next time. 

Do I have to use wild rice?

No, you may substitute any long-grain rice in this recipe.

Ingredients needed for homemade Rice-A-Roni:

  • Dried vermicelli or thin spaghetti noodles, cut into small pieces
  • Any long-grain rice, I’m using wild rice, but feel free to substitute whatever your family likes
  • Butter
  • Chicken broth
  • Italian seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Parsley
  • Salt

Begin by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.

Then, add ¾ cup of rice and ½ cup of broken noodle pieces. Stir well. Slowly brown the noodles and stir the mixture in with the butter until the noodles get a toasted appearance, but be careful not to overcook them. You just want a light golden color.

At this point you are then going to add in 1 quart of chicken broth, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 tsp. Parsley. 

Mix well, bring it to a simmer, and then cover the skillet with a lid. 

Turn the heat down to low to keep it at a simmer and set a timer for 20 minutes. It should take 25-30 minutes for the broth to absorb and the rice to cook, but start checking it at 20 minutes to make sure it hasn’t evaporated too quickly. This could happen if it’s boiling too aggressively. If this happens where the rice isn’t done but the liquid is gone, just add a little more broth or water and recover it. 

When the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, your homemade Rice-A-Roni is done!

Yield: Serves 8

Simple Wild Rice Blend Recipe (Rice-a-Roni Copycat)

simple wild rice mix

This simple rice blend recipe can be made with any long-grain rice in just a matter of minutes. It is full of flavor and can be made into a quick meal by just adding protein.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dried vermicelli or thin spaghetti noodles, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup any long-grain rice, I’m using wild rice, but feel free to substitute whatever your family likes
  • 3 T Butter
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Begin by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
  2. Add ¾ cup of rice and ½ cup of broken noodle pieces. Stir well.
  3. Slowly brown the noodles and stir the mixture in with the butter until the noodles get a toasted appearance, but be careful not to overcook them. You just want a light golden color.
  4. Add in 1 quart of chicken broth, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 tsp. Parsley.
  5. Mix well, bring it to a simmer, and then cover the skillet with a lid. 
  6. Turn the heat down to low to keep it at a simmer and set a timer for 20 minutes. It should take 25-30 minutes for the broth to absorb and the rice to cook, but start checking it at 20 minutes to make sure it hasn’t evaporated too quickly. This could happen if it’s boiling too aggressively. If this happens where the rice isn’t done but the liquid is gone, just add a little more broth or water and recover it. 
  7. When the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, your homemade Rice-A-Roni is done!
  8. Add in the protein of your choice to make it an easy one-dish meal.

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Sometimes I will just add in some canned chicken for a quick meal, but this time we had some fish that the boys had caught ice fishing this past weekend so we fried that up and it was the perfect combination and such an easy meal. 

This simple wild rice blend is so easy and such a great way to get wild rice in your family’s diet and a healthy meal on the table with little effort. I hope that my children will remember it as a childhood favorite.  

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