Recipe for Spanish Rice: Scrumptiously Colorful and Comforting Crescendo
Spanish rice may be served as a main dish or as a side dish. Its basic form, which is delicious and attractive, invites additions and substitutions. My family’s basic recipe is shared.
Usually appearing on dining tables as a side dish, Spanish rice also may claim star status as a main dish in vegetarian meals or, with the addition of meat, poultry, or fish, on carnivore menus. It is a popular accompaniment to enchiladas and other popular specialties of Mexican, Mexican-American, and American Southwest cuisines.
Basic ingredients for Spanish rice are white rice, tomatoes, and onions seasoned with chili powder and garlic. Carrots, cheese, green peppers, and peas are popular additions. The hallmark of this colorful, aromatic dish is the red-orange colors provided by tomatoes and chili peppers or chili powder and the heady flavors of garlic and onion as they gently spar with one another amidst the tasty texture of fluffy, fried rice.
Spanish rice traditionally calls for sautéing the ingredients in a skillet. A popular alternative is to bake Spanish rice as a casserole.
My family’s recipe for Spanish rice is colorful and tasty in its basic form and is also receptive to additions and substitutions. It also succeeds as a stuffing for peppers and, in fact, as a stuffing for chicken or turkey. Brown rice is substituted for white rice, and bell peppers are featured in a trio of traffic light colors: red or orange, yellow, and green. Also, water chestnuts, which are similar to jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) in taste and texture, are a standard ingredient in my family’s recipe.
In childhood, for some unknown reason, my sister DeeDee and I were not fond of the dish. I remember, in a rare display of churlishness, making unattractive, repulsively gagging sounds and a sour face whenever my mother cooked the dish. Far later, as an adult, I finally gave the recipe another chance, and I was startled into wondering why I had persecuted this dish so unmercilessly in childhood.
I recall that my mother regularly made the dish. In retrospect I realize now, from the way she sang as she prepared Spanish rice, that the dish had a special meaning for her, perhaps as a favorite of Laura, her multi-talented teacher mother, or, more likely, of Charles, her father, who had lived for a while in Santa Barbara, in southwestern California, and who carried the magic of that Spanish- and Mexican-influenced place in his heart for the rest of his life.
A favorite variation for me is to perch a poached egg on top of the cheesy topping for each serving.
My Family’s Recipe for Scrumptiously Colorful Spanish Rice
- 2 Tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium carrot, diced or grated
- 1 cup uncooked brown rice
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, with liquid
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) or Mediterranean oregano (Origanum vulgare)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or a Mexican cheese such as asadero or quesadilla) as garnish
- sharp knife
- 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon
- 1 cup measuring cup
- 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon
- large skillet with lid
- large serving spoon
1) In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté, stirring frequently, bell peppers, carrots, garlic, onions, and uncooked rice in sunflower oil until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
2) Add uncooked rice and bell peppers and sauté, stirring frequently, until bell peppers are crispy soft, about 5 to 8 minutes.
3) Stir in water chestnuts with liquid, diced tomatoes with liquid, broth, and seasonings (salt, oregano, chili powder); increase heat to high and bring to boil, stirring occasionally.
4) Reduce heat to low; cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, about 30 minutes.
5) Fluff rice with a fork; transfer to serving plate and serve while hot.
6) Garnish individual servings with shredded cheese and enjoy the comfortable consumption of scrumptiously colorful Spanish rice.
NOTE: Poached eggs, if desired as garnish, should be prepared toward the end of the rice mixture’s simmering time, within about the last 10 minutes
NOTE: In the unlikely event of leftovers, store in the refrigerator and reheat later. On its rare appearance as a leftover, Spanish rice is delicious.
Copyright: Monday, August 6, 2012 by Stessily.