Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf with Corn and Basil
Wild rice pilaf with corn and basil made in a slow cooker is likely to be voted the best crock pot recipe for any summer occasion! It’s bright with the best flavors and ingredients of summer, can feed a crowd, and the crock pot does the cooking.
It’s almost the Fourth of July, which means we need all the portable foods! Whether you are playing potluck guest, barbecue host, or want to see how many different cookouts you can crash before you are chased away with hot grill tongs, this Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf with Corn and Basil has you covered.
Is cookout crashing a thing? It seems decidedly less stressful (and less rude) than wedding crashing, and you’re more likely to end up with new friends at the end instead of being taken out back by the bride’s older brother.
Plus, it seems reasonably acceptable to show up at a cookout and barter food for entry, especially if that food happens to be a slow cooker filled with a delicious, summer-inspired wild rice pilaf.
If you want to be even more certain of being admitted, pack a cooler.
In all seriousness, I am very, very excited for this weekend of casual dining, backyard imbibing, and (hopefully) long afternoons spent lazing in the sun. Potluck-style meals like those traditional to the Fourth of July are my absolute favorites, whether I’m the one hosting or the one ringing the doorbell.
As a potluck/cookout guest, I love contributing to the meal and sampling the tasty dishes that everyone brings.
As a cookout host, I love that I don’t have to stress about putting together an entire menu…and sampling the tasty dishes that everyone brings.
How to “Summer-ize” Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf
While wild rice pilaf isn’t *as* traditional of a cookout side as say, Pesto Potato Salad, Pepperoni Pasta Salad, or even Southern Style Mustard Potato Salad, to me, that is part of its appeal. It’s a dish that feels fresh and different yet with enough familiar features and cozy qualities to fit right in beside the Easy Baked Beans and Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread.
For the recipe, I essentially took the critical components of classic wild rice pilaf then “summer-ized” it with seasonal ingredients:
- sweet corn
- bell peppers
- fresh basil
- pine nuts
Fresh sweet corn and red bell peppers celebrate the summer produce that’s in its prime, a generous handful of basil adds freshness and depth, and a final squeeze of lemon juice gives the recipe sunny vibrancy and life.
For a bit of crunch, I added toasted pine nuts, which are lovely combined with the basil and lemon. If you prefer, you can easily omit them or swap another nut, such as pecans or almonds, which are more traditional.
My other big change to a classic wild rice pilaf recipe was to adapt it to the slow cooker.
This crock pot method makes the recipe highly portable; you can take it right along with you in your slow cooker. If you are hosting, it’s also a good choice, because it keeps your oven completely free. I brought it along to a friend’s for a barbecue on Tuesday night, and we didn’t have a single grain of rice remaining!
Tools I used to make this Slow Cooker Wild Rice Pilaf with Corn and Basil:
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sweet onions or yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 large red bell peppers chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend rinsed and drained (I love this one; this is another option, though it is not gluten free)
- 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn or corn cut from the cob
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts or chopped toasted pecans
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Lightly coat a 3- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Cook just until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
To the slow cooker, add the onion mixture, bell peppers, uncooked rice, corn, salt, and pepper. Pour 1 1/2 cups very hot water over the top. Stir to combine, cover, and cook 3 1/2 to 4 hours on low or 2 to 3 hours on high.
When ready to serve, stir in the lemon juice, toasted pine nuts, and basil. Taste and add additional salt as desired. Enjoy warm.
- Cooking times can vary widely based on the model and size of your slow cooker. Be sure to check the rice early, especially if you are using a larger-size slow cooker, to make sure it does not overcook.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave.
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