Italian Fried Rice Recipe and * VIDEO * - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Italian Fried Rice Recipe and * VIDEO *

I ate an excessive amount of pasta growing up.  My mom prepared it about three times per week and then we usually had it also on Sundays when we went to spend the day with my mom’s family or my dad’s.  Pasta was part of our heritage, not just an easy dinner and not eaten plain with butter the way I know many kids prefer it.  (Coincidentally, my father is visiting this week and on Day 2 he was already asking for a plate of spaghetti!)

Italian Fried Rice made with brown rice and seasonal veggies | Pamela Salzman

Ironically I don’t make pasta much for my family, and not because we don’t like it.  We do!  And it’s not because pasta is a processed food, because it is and I try to limit those.  But, I don’t eat much pasta because I can’t stop myself from overeating it!  Did you know 1 serving of pasta is 1/2 cup?  Basically, I try to keep my carbohydrates to 2 servings per meal to avoid blood sugar spikes and to attempt to maintain a healthful weight.  Unfortunately, overeating pasta for me is very, very easy.  I think I can consume 4 cups of pasta no problem.  I know I can make a dish with mostly veggies and some pasta, but I always end up eating seconds.  And thirds.

Whole grains like farro, barley and brown rice I don’t overeat as easily.  A few years ago I ate a fried rice dish at Ammo in LA that was a game changer.  I always assumed fried rice to be Asian-inspired, but this one wasn’t.  And it’s not fried, by the way.  Just sautéed. It just had lots of seasonal market vegetables and brown rice all sautéed in olive oil.  It made me think about all the possibilities for fried rice and I have enjoyed making versions of that dish since then.  My favorite combination I came up with is this one here, which has an Itailian twist.  I am crazy for it because it makes me feel like I’m eating all the yummy flavors I would put in pasta and it feels more satisfying because the brown rice has so much more fiber than pasta.

But just like regular fried rice, this is a great way to use up bits of leftover veggies or any kind of grain, for that matter.  And it is super quick (as in minutes) to throw together.  I probably eat a version of this recipe for lunch more than anything else if I am working at home.  Now that I think about it, I am going to make this for my parents this week!

Italian Fried Rice with brown rice and veggies | pamela salzman


5.0 from 1 reviews
Italian Fried Rice
Serves: 4
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • a pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 or 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced thinly
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 cups baby leafy greens like chard, kale and spinach or 6 stalks of kale, stemmed and leaves chopped or more
  • 3-4 cups COOKED short grain brown rice
  • chicken stock, vegetable stock or water, if necessary
  • optional accompaniment ideas: grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, poached or fried egg, toasted, chopped nuts, hot sauce
  1. Warm a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and when warm, add the garlic and chili flakes. Sauté until the garlic is just starting to turn golden on the edges, about 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the tomatoes just start to lose their shape and the asparagus and mushrooms are tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the fresh basil and sauté until wilted.
  3. Add the cooked rice, the greens and another pinch of salt and pepper and sauté until the rice is warmed through and the greens are wilted. If the rice and vegetables are sticking to the pan, add a splash of water or stock. Serve immediately with or without suggested accompaniments.
Cooked quinoa, millet or lentils can be subbed for the rice.  You can also use part grain/part chickpeas. Or omit the tomatoes and basil and use different quick-cooking vegetables like thinly sliced fennel, diced zucchini, shredded carrots, blanched cauliflower florets, peas, scallions.  And use different ingredients to add in later, such as cooked beets, sliced oranges, avocado, olives and so on.  There are unlimited combinations!



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  1. I was looking for a way to incorporate more (and new) veggies into my diet and this was absolutely perfect! the same old spinach salad was getting a bit drab. this is such an easy recipe but it tastes like some serious work went into it!! thank you, as usual you are amazing!!

    • I don’t know if there’s a recipe I make more than this. I love it for so many reasons, a few of which you mentioned. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. This was a hit at my house tonight. Especially with the fried egg (Everyone had one except me. Not a fan of the fried egg). I did it with the zucchini like you suggested and we all loved it. My daughter wants the asparagus next time. I have just enough for me for lunch tomorrow. Yay! Thank you!

    • I make this more than I’d like to admit with different vegetables every time. I think you and I are the only people on the planet who don’t like fried eggs though! haha!

  3. This looks great. Do you ever make anything with cauliflower “rice” ?

    • I have made cauliflower rice a few times, but my family isn’t crazy about it and no one has issues with grains, so I don’t really make it much. There’s a recipe on my site for Cauliflower Tabbouleh which uses a caulk-rice in place of bulgur wheat. It’s delicious!

      • Thank you!! I will check it out, sounds great.

  4. My family really enjoyed the Italian fried recipe–even FOMP (Friend of Mr. Picky) cleaned his plate. Your apple dipped pancake recipe is on my list to try next.

    • Thanks for letting me know, Kim! That’s amazing! And you will love the pancakes!

  5. The video is excellent, and you are a superb teacher who truly motivates and demonstrates incredible enthusiasm and energy! I love the versatility of this recipe. Many thanks for all your suggestions.

    • You’re making me blush, Mia. Thank you. 🙂

  6. After viewing the video I prepared a version of this dish using leftover string beans and cauliflower.It was a real winner! Thanks for such a delish recipe!

    • It’s so versatile, you can use whatever!

  7. What a fabulous video!! Your pictures are awesome but now I feel like you’re in the kitchen with me. So many, many tips and techniques throughout the video. AWESOME!! Thank you!!
    Can’t wait to make the rice this weekend.

    • You are so sweet, Diana. Thank you! Let me know if you make the rice :).

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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