The Recipe: A simple summer vegan side dish with really pretty color, just rice cooked with perfect summer tomatoes. It's almost a loaves 'n' fishes story, rice that blossoms from one cup to six cups, thanks to an intriguing cooking technique – don't worry, it's easy, no special equipment needed!
Weight Watchers friendly, just two points per serving. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.
The Conversation: Are you a side-dish cook? Me either.
Some cooks punt pie, some bypass bread, some dodge desserts. Me, I skirt side dishes. (Enough with the alliteration? Okay!)
Why? Maybe because once I put a protein, a vegetable and a salad on the table, I’m done. Or because my cooking style tends to one-pot suppers, especially in winter. Or because a starch side dish is last on the list of nutrition priorities – even a sweet ending (aka dessert) trumps a side dish.
But last summer, I found myself making one side dish after another, just because there was time, twice when roasting the decidedly unfussy Fast Roast Chicken, twice more when my bestest-n-favoritest cook was tending meat and vegetables on the grill.
Red rice is definitely kicked up a notch both color-wise and taste-wise. It’s not “spicy hot” but “spicy mellow” – it’s a great make-ahead side dish, easy to rewarm. It calls for Ras Al-Hanout, a North African spice blend. I’ve used different versions for years, consider making extra for spicing grilled meat and fish and roast chicken.
HOW FUNNY! I just now realized that my very first Kitchen Parade column back in 2002 was in fact a side dish, the wonderful Cheese Gnocchi Pie! Still, there are only a few side dish recipes here. Any recipes to recommend? I love it when readers share ideas and recipes!
RED RICE with TOMATOES
Time to table: 45 minutes
Makes 6 cups
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium-size summer tomatoes, peeled and grated (see TIPS)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons Ras Al-Hanout (see spice mixture below) or chili powder
- 1 cup short-grain rice
- 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 sprigs fresh herbs – thyme, oregano, rosemary
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 2 cups water
- Fresh tomato slices & fresh herbs for garnish, optional
In a large pot, heat oil until shimmery on medium heat, then stir in onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften. Stir in jalapeño and garlic, cook for 2 – 3 minutes until jalapeño begins to soften.
Reduce heat to low (otherwise the sugar in the tomatoes may burn on a higher heat), stir in tomatoes and Ras Al-Hanout and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Stir in rice, salt, herbs, tomato juice and water. Let come to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes, checking every five minutes adjusting the heat to maintain a slow simmer.
After 15 minutes, the rice should be cooked but quite loose with some liquid left in the pan. Remove from the heat, cover and let rest for 10 minutes, allowing time for the extra liquid to be absorbed.
Serve immediately, topped with fresh tomatoes and herbs. Otherwise, to serve later, refrigerate and gently reheat, adding water if needed to rehydrate the rice.
RAS AL-HANOUT You can find ready-made Ras Al-Hanout in spice shops but it’s easy to mix at home. For just enough spice mix for the rice, use 1-3/4 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoons turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, cardamom and cloves.
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