I was totally oblivious to the fact that there is actually something called Spanish Rice, until I came to grad school in the US and on one of our grocery trips, I chanced upon a package of ready-to-eat Spanish Rice in one of the food aisles! However, now that I consider myself to be a food enthusiast, i can give you some interesting information about this recipe. Spanish Rice does NOT come from Spain, as the name might suggest. it is actually a type of Mexican Rice, a staple side dish for people in Mexico made with rice, beans, bell peppers, and of course, tomatoes. Often popular as a Tex-Mex recipe, this Rice dish gets a huge dose of flavor due to addition of garlic, onions and jalapenos!
When I make Vegetable Rice, I like to make it as colorful as I can. So I tweaked the traditional recipe a little (original recipe by Raghavan Iyer via Woman’s Day; photo by Scott Phillips) to add my set of colors and flavors to the dish. Hence you’ll find green peas, corn and some mushrooms in the ingredient list. The browns, greens and yellows nicely compliment the orangish-red color of the Tomato Rice, along with adding a boost of nutrients to the recipe. But feel free to add or omit veggies as you like. With the goodness of protein added by the black beans, this is one dish that is as healthy and flavorful as one can expect!
Spanish (Mexican) Tomato Rice with Black Beans & Vegetables
Serves 2 adults
1 cup uncooked medium-grain white rice
1 14-1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 small shallots – finely chopped
1 medium fresh jalapeno, cored and finely chopped
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp corn kernels – thawed
a bunch of boiled green peas
2 tbsp crimini mushrooms – finely chopped
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili powder
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves – finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves – finely chopped
In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the rice with 2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 min. Remove from the heat and let the pan stand, covered, for another 5 min.
While the rice steams, set a fine sieve in a bowl and drain the can of tomatoes. Pour the tomato juices into a 1-cup liquid measure. Add enough water to the tomato juices to equal 1 cup.
Heat a 10- to 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and stir-fry the garlic, chopped onions(shallots) and jalapeno until the garlic browns and the jalapeño smells pungent, about 1 min. Add the remaining vegetables, black beans, salt, cumin, and chili powder; stir two to three times to incorporate the mixture and cook the spices,and cook till the veggies look ready to eat, but not too limp.
Stir in the tomato juice and water mixture and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans absorb much of the liquid, 5 to 7 min. Add the tomatoes, oregano, cilantro, and cooked rice and mix together. Then let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is warm, 1 to 2 min.