The Unique Method For More Flavorful Garlicky Rice Pilaf

Of all the pantry staples home cooks like to keep on hand at all times, rice is definitely a common choice. Widely available and incredibly affordable (via the United Nations), this grain can vary from fragrant and floral to nutty and chewy to sticky and sweet, depending on its type, and forms the base of so many essential dishes, from classic seafood paella to creamy Parmesan risotto to sushi.

Even if you're not basing your whole meal on rice, the grain can star in a wide variety of side dishes. Among them all, rice pilaf is probably one of the most well known and loved. Whereas plain steamed rice is usually just rinsed and cooked in water, for pilaf the rice grains are sautéed in butter or oil before being steamed, which brings out the nuttiness of the rice. Almost infinitely versatile, rice pilaf can be flavored with a wide range of aromatics and garnishes, from smoked paprika to dried fruits and nuts to Parmesan cheese (via The Seattle Times), making it an excellent companion to many different styles of cuisine.

Recipe developer Miriam Hahn came up with Tasting Table's version of Garlicky Rice Pilaf, and she's got a trick for ensuring that the versatile side turns out extra garlicky and extra flavorful.

Caramelize the garlic for a complex, robust rice pilaf

If you've ever tried roasted garlic in any context — whether folded into mashed potatoes, stirred into roasted garlic soup, or scattered throughout a savory compound butter — then you know that the cooked allium tastes sweet and complex, more so than its raw counterpart. According to Taste of Home, roasting caramelizes the sugars in the garlic, resulting in that deep, sweet flavor.

That sweetness is just what recipe developer Miriam Hahn harnesses in her recipe for Garlicky Rice Pilaf. In the recipe, long grain rice is sautéed in olive oil with diced onion before being steamed in vegetable broth. As the rice cooks, an entire bulb of garlic whose very top has been sliced off is brushed with olive oil, covered with foil, and roasted in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes, until all the cloves are soft, sweet, and deeply browned. Once the rice is perfectly steamed, the roasted garlic is chopped and then folded into the rice before it's garnished with fresh parsley.

So why roasted garlic in the dish? "When you roast garlic it is milder and a little sweet, and it is a real super star in this dish," Hahn told us. "It caramelizes during the roasting process and gives the rice a rich, flavorful taste." So the next time rice pilaf is on the menu, make sure to grab a bulb of garlic when you get cooking.