Let me introduce you to my new favorite version of Spanish rice (or otherwise known as Mexican rice). So often when I have this side dish at a restaurant I find it lacking in flavor. But when you make it at home? You have complete control.
Now, I am by no means saying this version is authentic, but it sure does make an excellent side to any sort of Mexican fare. It is full of diced vegetables, like onion, carrot, pepper and corn. However, you can easily customize the veggies to your taste. Don’t like peas? Leave them out. Want a little more kick? Add in a jalapeno. There are also plenty of spices and a good amount of tomato flavor in the mix, making this rice anything but bland.
One of the best parts about this rice is that once you have it going and all the ingredients are added to the skillet, it is very hands-off. You can let the rice simmer gently (and then rest after cooking) while you take care of your main dish.
One of the key components of this recipe is lightly browning the rice in the skillet before you add the cooking liquid. You want to make sure you keep an eye on the rice and do not walk away during this process. You’ll need to stir fairly often at first, and then almost constantly toward the end so that it browns evenly and doesn’t burn.
When the rice is cooking in the liquid, you also want to make sure that it is gently simmering. Otherwise, if you have the heat going too strong, the rice will absorb the liquid too fast and will not be fully cooked.
And lastly, make sure you don’t skip the step to let the rice sit covered with the heat off after it’s finished cooking. This rest time helps give it the perfect texture.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 medium green pepper diced
- 1 large carrot peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes*
- 2 2/3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the onion, pepper and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the rice. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently (and then almost constantly toward the end of the 6 to 8 minutes), until the rice is lightly golden brown.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine, then stir in the tomatoes, the broth, corn, peas, cumin, chili powder and salt. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and let gently simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes untouched.
- Fluff the rice with a fork. Taste and season with additional salt if needed, then garnish with the cilantro.