Mrs. Dornberger’s Italian Rice

Mrs. Dornberger’s Italian Rice

There are some nights where what you had plan to make for dinner falls apart.  I forgot I had an appointment after work and had to rush to find something fast to make for dinner.  This traditional Italian food recipe fit the bill.  In 30 minutes, I had dinner for my family.

I used my rice cooker, since my talent with cooking rice on the stove is burning it.  While my rice was cooking, I chopped my onion, heated up about a tablespoon of olive oil and fried the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.  Then I added the spices and tomato sauce.  I let it simmer until my rice was done which was about 15 minutes.  I took it off the heat, added my rice and cheese and stirred until it was all combined.

My kids loved eating this!  Next time I make this, I’m going to add some ground beef to it to make it a quick main dish.  I’ve estimated the ingredients cost $2.52 to make this and would serve 8 people as a side dish making each serving $0.32.  Adding a pound of ground beef would make it cost $5.91 and would serve probably serve about 6, making the cost per serving just under $1.00.

I found the recipe in The San Francisco Call printed on June 1, 1913.  It was submitted by Mrs. Victor Dornberger of 157 South Thirteenth St., San Jose.  The original recipe is as follows

Italian Rice.  Wash rice through several waters.  Put it with salt and cold water (three times as much water as rice) in a saucepan and cook until rice is dry.  Cook slowly to prevent scorching.  Then prepare the following sauce or gravy: Fry slowly in hot butter or olive oil a chopped onion, garlic, parsley, chili pepper and any herbs desired.  Then add canned tomatoes or tomato sauce and let simmer 20 minutes.  Grate about a half large cup cheese and add to gravy, pouring it in slowly to prevent lumping.  Pour over rice, stirring in well, and set on back of stove for five or ten minutes.  Macaroni may be cooked in this style and baked.

Italian Rice Recipe

Italian Rice

A recipe similar to Mexican rice from 1913
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  1. Put rice and water in rice cooker, or bring water to boil on stove and add rice; cover and cook until done (about 20 minutes).
  2. Heat olive oil and when hot, add chopped onion and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add parsley, chili powder, Italian seasoning, salt and tomato sauce. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and stir in rice and cheese until cheese is melted.

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