Fragrant and fluffy, this Baked Rice Puttanesca is loaded with bursting cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and classic Italian flavors. No need to turn on the stove—simply throw everything in a pot, bake and serve with a drizzle of creamy vegan basil aioli.
I am so excited to share this recipe because it’s from my upcoming cookbook, Fantastic Vegan Recipes for the Teen Cook! This baked rice dish is one of the first recipes I developed and it’s still a favorite of mine. Baking your rice (instead of cooking it over the stovetop) is a foolproof way of achieving light and fluffy grains every time. For this version, I borrowed flavors from the classic Italian dish, Pasta Puttanesca.
I created the recipes in my cookbook with the goal of making them approachable for everyone—including my fellow teenagers! I also wanted each and every recipe to reflect my creativity and maybe offer up something you haven’t tried before. This baked rice is the perfect example. It’s not too difficult if you’re just starting out in the kitchen, but also not overly simplified to the point where you don’t need a recipe.
How to Make Baked Rice
Baked rice does take some time to make, but very little hands-on work. All you need is one large, lidded pot that’s also oven-safe. A baking dish and tin foil will also get the job done, but I find a sturdy pot is much easier to handle. To your baking vessel of choice, add cherry tomatoes, a chopped onion, a few more aromatics and a generous glug of olive oil. Give everything a good toss and cover the pot. Bake for 20 minutes to allow those flavors to develop before adding the rice.
While the aromatics bake, I like to prepare the other ingredients. Rinse the rice, drain the chickpeas, measure out the capers and olives. Get a kettle or pot of water boiling over the stove as well. When the aromatics are ready, simply add in your remaining ingredients and pour over the boiling water. Bake covered for another 25 minutes.
You may be tempted to remove the lid to peak at the rice while it’s baking, but it’s important the pot stays covered the whole time. Trapped steam is what yields perfectly tender rice, so you want to make sure none of it escapes! Once the baked rice comes out of the oven, I recommend letting it sit covered for another 10-15 minutes to let all those flavors absorb and settle. To serve, fluff with a fork and pile into bowls.
The Best Vegan Aioli…
While the rice bakes, you should have just the right amount of time to make a delicious basil aioli. A traditional aioli contains eggs, but this vegan-version uses a secret ingredient! Remember that can of chickpeas we used in the rice? Well, you’ll be needing some of the liquid from the can (aquafaba) as well as a couple tablespoons of chickpeas. Together, these ingredients are going to make the aioli perfectly thick and light.
To make the aioli, add the chickpeas and aquafaba to a high-speed blender along with lemon juice and salt. Whip it up until completely smooth. You’ll notice that the mixture will begin to get a little frothy, that’s the aquafaba doing it’s magic! Very slowly, drizzle in some good-quality olive oil with the blender running on low and the aioli will thicken into a rich and creamy sauce. Add in that fresh basil for a pop of freshness and try not to eat this stuff straight from the blender.
If you enjoy this recipe, please consider pre-ordering my cookbook! Fantastic Vegan Recipes for the Teen Cook is packed with tons of flavorful, weeknight recipes like this one that anyone can make! Whether you’re a teen like me, or just looking to for some yummy vegan inspiration, I made sure to include something for everyone.
More Vegan Recipes to Try
- Chickpea and Dumpling Soup
- Butternut Squash Baked Rice with Sage Pesto
- Lemon Risotto with Herb Roasted Chickpeas
- Balsamic Lentil Ragu with Sweet Corn Polenta