Mexican rice, sometimes called Spanish rice or red rice, is typically made with long grain white rice, tomato, onion, garlic and seasonings. It’s usually a side dish with chicken, tacos, fish or other meats or soups. It’s simple to prepare and features toasted rice, which is a great technique for preventing rice from being too sticky. Toasting rice also brings out a rich, nutty flavor.
Cooking rice in general used to intimidate me but not so much anymore. I finally figured out that it’s a simple 2:1 ratio, liquid to rice. So 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water. Two cups of rice to 4 cups of water and so on. Also, a long time ago I happened upon an old hippie vegetarian cookbook (sorry I can’t recall the name of the book) which suggested it was totally OK to check the rice while it was simmering, so no more stressing about lifting the lid before the rice was done. That same recipe also advised stirring in seasonings after the rice was cooked. That technique has made for many pots of nicely seasoned, fluffy rice at my house.
In this first recipe, we’re doing it a little differently however, as we’re actually simmering with the lid off anyway and we’re toasting the rice with the seasonings before we add the liquid and bring it all to a boil. For this particular version of Mexican rice I use what I have on hand, which in this instance is fresh cherry tomatoes from the backyard garden, some leftover minced onion and celery from another recipe and a jar of quick pickled jalapeños my son recently made.
The great thing about this Mexican rice dish is you can ad lib and substitute liberally. For example, you can add chopped bell pepper to the veggie mix. You can delete the celery or jalapeño if you prefer. You can use any kind of broth for liquid. You can double the recipe. It’s flexible, for sure. Remember to taste before serving and adjust seasonings to suit your own tastebuds.
Mexican Rice with Cherry Tomatoes
- Several swirls of olive oil
- ½ yellow or white onion, minced
- 1 celery stalk, minced
- Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons pickled jalapeño, chopped
- 1 cup long grain white rice, rinsed and drained
- Kosher salt, as desired
- Black pepper, as desired
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons crushed oregano or ground oregano
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon tomato bouillon (you can substitute chicken bouillon)
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Chopped jalapeño, for garnish
Heat olive oil on medium-high heat in a large saucepan or deep skillet.
Add onion, celery, tomatoes, garlic and jalapeño and sauté for a couple of minutes until onion is softened.
Add rice. Cook and stir until golden and fragrant, a couple of minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, cumin and oregano.
In a small bowl, stir bouillon into water. Add water to rice and veggies. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook gently until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed.
Garnish with cilantro and jalapeño as desired.
This next recipe is my version of a coconut rice. It’s a similar technique to the Mexican rice in that you stir the rice into the hot oil and toast it a bit before adding the liquid. It’s a great side with tacos and is excellent in burritos.
The recipe as written makes a lot of rice, at least 4 cups. Cut it in half if you want or save the extra for a stir-fry later in the week.
2 cups long grain white rice, rinsed
- Several swirls of olive oil
- Pinch of Kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons grated or minced ginger
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups coconut milk
- 1 cup broth, veggie or chicken
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced + more for garnish
- Handful of cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
Rinse rice and set aside. Heat a swirl of two of olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or deep skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in rice, add salt, zest and ginger. Cook for a few minutes.
Add lime juice, water, coconut milk, broth, green onions and cilantro. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 15-20 minutes with lid on or off, until rice is absorbed. Turn off heat. Cover rice and let it sit for a bit before stirring and garnishing with more green onions and cilantro.
Keep leftover rice in refrigerator for up to a week.