The older I get the more fascinated I become with convenience foods. I’ve loved cooking since my early 20’s but I always stuck to what I knew…American and Italian cooking. Over the years I depended on many boxed items because in my mind they seemed too complicated to make from scratch. Take pancakes for instance. The first time I made pancakes from scratch I literally laughed out loud. You mean to tell me the only difference between the package mix and home made is adding the baking powder, salt and sugar separately? Here I thought it was going to be some complex project.
I recently had the same experience with Spanish Rice. We eat it all the time but I always bought the Trader Joes or Fresh & Easy box variety. Again…it seemed too complicated. Until the day I didn’t have any on hand. I had rice, seasonings and happened to have a can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos my father in law gave me so I thought…let’s just give it a try.
Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose creating your own recipe, but this time it was a winner. The flavor was much better and it was light and fluffy…something I rarely achieved with the box mix. Since my first experiment I’ve played with it a bit more with seasonings and timing. The best part…it’s easy. No where near as complicated as I thought.
Spanish rice is a great side dish with tacos, burritos and taco bowls. The canned tomato product adds a healthy dose of lycopene, a heart-healthy phytochemical. Give it a try.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup white rice (medium or long-grained is fine)
- 1¾ cup low sodium chicken stock (can use Vegetarian stock)
- 1 can diced tomatoes, lightly strained (to skip next step use canned diced tomatoes with jalapenos)
- ½ jalapeno or poblano, seeded, finely chopped (or to save time use canned diced tomatoes with jalapenos)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup chopped cilantro (optional)
- Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
- Add the chicken stock, strained tomatoes, jalapeno or poblano (if using), cumin, oregano and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, cover the skillet and lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the rice you used. Check the instructions on the rice package. Once the liquid is absorbed fluff with a fork, top with chopped cilantro and serve.