Lidia Bastianich’s Traditional Rice and Chicken


(except, I’m calling it chicken and rice because I increased the chicken. :))



Oh, first day of spring. Weren’t you just lovely? Sigh. Like pretty much everyone, I am so over this winter. On this particular first day of spring, my littlest kid turned one (how the hell did THAT happen?) after battling a few days of a high fever. Not to be outdone, Zachary apparently might see snow on his birthday in April if the forecasts are to be believed. Duuuuude. Come on already.

The one redeeming factor of this looooong winter is getting to eat a lot of comfort foods. And this dish is about as simple and easy as you can get with regards to comfort foods. Chicken and rice are cooked together alongside a carrot-onion-celery pestata for a dish that is truly homey and rich. Using short-grained arborio rice and finishing it off with just a touch of butter and cheese make this creamy and, by all accounts, a big winner for everyone in our family (as long as you don’t count the whole cleaning-rice-up-after-a-baby-eats-it problem).

Although this is perfect winter food, I have no doubts that a little lemon zest and juice could brighten this dish right up and make it more spring-y. Of course, I’ll look for any way to eat a dish like this year-round, and would have no qualms eating it in the dead of summer, either.


Lidia Bastianich’s Traditional Rice and Chicken

  • This looks so comforting. And hey, serve it with a side of asparagus, and it’s a perfect spring meal. 🙂

  • This strikes me as a cross between risotto and cream of chicken and rice soup… two of my favorite comfort foods! That picture is making my mouth water!

  • Spring and I need to have a little heart to heart because it is FAILING lately. Ha-rumph.

    This is just comfort food no matter what the season!

  • I agree with the comment that this seems like a cross between risotto and a really excellent cream of chicken rice soup. We in the Pacific NW have had some lovely
    spring weather, but there is still enough nip in the air that a dish like this would be welcomed.

  • Courtney

    I can vouch that this dish is fantastic! Just made it for dinner, and I only wish that I hadn’t needed to halve the recipe–the leftovers would probably taste even better. I added some lemon zest, as you wisely suggested, Elly. 🙂 The finished product reminded my husband and me of risotto; in fact, I think we preferred it over risotto, since the rice was cooked to perfection (I’ve been known to serve a chewy risotto from time to time), and it was far easier to prepare (i.e., no constant stirring needed). This is a keeper! Another plus is that I almost always have all of the necessary ingredients on hand.

    • elly

      So happy to hear you liked it, Courtney!

  • We had this for dinner tonight, it hit the spot! Comfort food at its finest! As far as I am concerned you can never have too many chicken and rice dishes in your repertoire!

    • elly

      I agree, Annie! Glad you enjoyed it.

  • Rachel

    Oh man. I made a version of this tonight (because I had the wrong rice) and it was SO GOOD!

    • elly

      I’m so glad you liked it! I love how good it is for being so easy!

  • Jackie

    Hi Elly

    How much lemon zest and lemon juice would you add to this recipe and whendo I incorporate it into the recipe.

    • elly

      Jackie, hard to say since I haven’t tried it with lemon yet. I would probably add a little off the heat at the end, maybe 1/2 tsp. lemon zest or ~2 tbsp juice, and then try it and see. Let me know what you end up doing!

  • Alice

    Been wanting to try this recipe for ages and finally got around to it this week. Kicking myself for not making it sooner! I used chicken breasts because that’s what we had and I did add the lemon juice and zest. The whole family loved it and you know anything that’s a hit with an 18-month old and both parents is a win 🙂

    • elly

      That’s great to hear, Alice. We love this dish!

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