Vermicelli rice with lamb or beef, warm spices and pine nuts is a flavorful hearty Lebanese side or main dish. Make this hashweh recipe in less than 30 minutes!
Rice is a staple ingredient worldwide, but especially throughout Asia, Northern Africa, and the Middle East. It’s for good reason, because rice is economical and simple to cook.
Plus, the neutral flavor of rice makes it the perfect base ingredient for side dishes like basmati rice pilaf, yellow rice, and Persian saffron rice. It’s even incorporated into desserts like rice pudding and snacks like rice cakes.
An easy way to boost a simple rice dish is by adding flavorful spices and ingredients for texture. In the case of today’s recipe, those ingredients are Lebanese spices, salty pine nuts, and tiny pieces of vermicelli noodles.
Vermicelli Rice with Meat
On its own, Lebanese rice with vermicelli is a fantastic side dish. But the addition of ground lamb or minced beef elevates it into a much heartier Lebanese dish called hashweh.
Also known as hushwee, the dish makes a perfect weeknight meal because it cooks up in under 30 minutes. Translated to English, hashweh means “stuffing” or “stuffed”. While it does make a great stuffing in vegetables like zucchini and eggplant, it’s also used as the filling for meat pies and pitas and naan.
But it doesn’t stop there! You can serve lamb or beef vermicelli rice as an appetizer over hummus. Use warm pita bread to scoop it up and you’ve got yourself a fantastic fork-free meal.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredients for hashweh can vary by household, and it’s easy to adapt to whatever you have on hand. There are just a few basic pantry ingredients you’ll need.
- Long grain rice- Because this dish is essentially a rice pilaf, it’s best to use long grain rice. Short grain rice is starchier, causing the sticky grains to clump together. A long grain white or brown rice will give you the fluffy results you want.
- Vermicelli- This is a long, thin Italian pasta. Most brands are packaged with the noodles already broken into small pieces, but if you can’t find it packaged that way, simply bread the noodles into 2-inch pieces yourself.
- Ground meat- Traditionally, this Lebanese rice dish is made with minced lamb, but minced beef (ground beef) or any other ground protein would work.
- Pine nuts- Lightly toasted pine nuts add the perfect nutty flavor. Depending on where you live, they can be a little pricey, so feel free to swap them out for ground almonds if you’d like
- Ghee- This ingredient is butter that is cooked to the point where the water evaporates and the milk solids are caramelized. It’s similar to clarified butter, except that it’s cooked longer, but it isn’t cooked as long as brown butter.
Ghee has become more popular in the United States in recent years, so you can typically find it at the grocery store near the cooking oils. Otherwise, look for it in the ethnic food aisle.
Tips For the Best Hashweh
- Rinse the rice. For fluffy rice, it’s important to remove as much excess starch as possible. Rinse the grains in a strainer until the water runs clear.
- Keep the vermicelli moving in the pan. You want the vermicelli noodles to cook to a golden brown color, but it burns easily. Just keep stirring the noodles as they cook and you’ll be fine.
- Use stock instead of water. Although it’s perfectly fine to boil rice in water, using chicken or vegetable stock adds a lot of flavor!
- Fat means flavor. For the best flavor, use meat with a bit of fat in it. Ground lamb or 85 percent lean ground beef sirloin are great choices.
Lebanese vermicelli rice with meat is high in carbohydrates and fat (from the ghee). Per serving, hashweh with ground beef has 625 calories..
If you're unable to find vermicelli noodles (also known as rice stick noodles), any long thin pasta noodle will work as a substitute. Good choices are spaghettini and angel hair. However, keep in mind that those are not gluten free.
Vermicelli is a rice noodle pasta, so they are both gluten free carbohydrate sources. By weight, vermicelli is higher in calories than white rice.
Lebanese Vermicelli Rice with Meat (Hashweh)
- ¼ cup ghee or butter
- ½ cup vermicelli pasta broken in 2 inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups basmati rice uncooked
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 cups boiling water or chicken stock
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 3 tbsp fresh parsley minced
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
- 1 medium yellow onion minced
- 1 lb ground beef or lamb
- 2 tbsp Lebanese 7 spice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup parsley minced for garnish
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- Place the raw rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly until water runs clear. Set aside.
- In a large, deep pan melt the ghee (or butter) over medium heat. Add the broken vermicelli pasta and brown, stirring often, until the vermicelli is a deep golden brown color. Keep stirring as it cooks to prevent it from burning.
- Add rinsed rice, salt, pepper and cinnamon to the pan and combine with the vermicelli. Toast the rice for 2-3 minutes, stirring often.
- Carefully pour boiling water into the pan and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover pan with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a small saute pan melt the ghee (or butter) over medium heat and saute the pine nuts until you smell a nutty aroma and the nuts are a rich golden brown color. Set aside.
- In a deep pan, melt ghee over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4-5 minutes.
- Add ground beef (or lamb), Lebanese 7 spice, kosher salt and black pepper. Cook 8-10 minutes or until meat is browned, stirring with spoon to break up meat. Stir in toasted pine nuts and set aside.
- To serve, either spoon hashweh on top of rice pilaf mounded on a platter or combine both the hashweh and the rice pilaf together. Garnish with the fresh minced parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.