Red Rice with Tomatoes

Isn't that rice so pretty?! It's a simple summer vegan side dish, just home-cooked rice with a twist. All the credit for that beautiful rich red color goes to juicy summer tomatoes and a North African spice blend called "ras el hanout". (If you have some, great. If not, it's easy to mix with spices you may well already have and if you don't, well, chili powder works really well too.) Even more, this savory rice is almost a loaves 'n' fishes story, rice that blossoms from one cup to six cups, thanks to an intriguing cooking technique – but again, don't worry, it's super-easy and needs no special equipment!

Red Rice with Tomatoes ♥, a lovely rouge-tinted vegan summer side dish.

An Easy, Healthy Side Dish. Whole Food, Simply Prepared with North African / Moroccan Spices. Real Food, Fresh & Inventive. Beautiful Color! Hearty & Filling. A Summer Classic for Juneteenth Occasions and During Tomato Harvest. Not just easy, Summer Easy. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Great for Meal Prep. Potluck & Party Friendly. Easy DIY. Low Cal. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free.

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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.

Color-wise and taste-wise, Red Rice is definitely kicked up a notch.

It’s not "spicy hot" but "spicy mellow" – it’s a great make-ahead side dish, easy to rewarm.

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!

About This Recipe

  • Red Rice with Tomato is a savory rice side dish. The rice is cooked with grated tomato and tomato juice which stain the rice grains a pretty tomato color.
  • Distinctive Ingredients = uncooked rice + tomato (both juicy summer tomatoes and tomato juice) + a North-African / Moroccan spice blend called "ras el hanout"
  • Short Ingredient List = all the above + red onion + jalapeño + garlic + salt
  • Every-day White Rice tastes great but is pretty plain on a plate. Not Red Rice! It jumps out onto the center-rice stage.
  • This is a time-friendly recipe, it takes only a few minutes more hands-on time than cooking regular rice. Allow about 20 minutes hands-on time and about 45 minutes to get this side on the table. Great news, it can also be made ahead of time and then gently reheated to serve hot some time later.
  • This is a calorie-friendly recipe, bulking up rice with a vegetable and spices.
  • This is a budget-friendly recipe, no hunting up specialty ingredients or even specialty spices.
  • The recipe starts off with just one cup of rice but yields about 6 cups of cooked rice. Wow!
  • If you like the idea of a rice-tomato combo, definitely check out my Tomato & Rice Salad.
  • Not quite what you're looking for? Check out my other rice recipes.

What's In Red Rice with Tomatoes? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Rice Choose an uncooked white rice, either long-grain or short-grain.
  • Aromatic Vegetables The recipe calls for red onion, jalapeño and garlic sautéed in a little olive oil before stirring in the tomato and rice.
  • Ripe Tomato & Tomato Juice Make sure the tomatoes are really ripe and juicy, you'll want to peel and grate them. This is super-easy, just rub a tomato half against the large holes of a cheese grater, you'll grate and peel it at the same time. The tomato juice adds still more tomato flavor and also, along with water, serves as the rice's cooking liquid.
  • Seasonings Salt, of course, but mostly a spice mixture called "Ras-Al Hanout" which comes from North Africe, a lovely blend of warm spices like cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper plus small touches of nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. Can you mix your own? You bet, in fact, I include the recipe below. If you don't have those spices, just use chili powder, which will likely be more "spicy" than "spiced" but still very good.
  • FYI if you like to blend your own spices, you'll definitely want to check out DIY Spice Blends & Homemade Seasonings. I love that so many spice blends can be made to order (fewer jars of oddball spices to find and use up) and mixed to taste (maybe you don't like turmeric, say).

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for rice cooked with tomato inspires you, please do save and share! I'd be honored ...

Red Rice with Tomatoes ♥, a lovely rouge-tinted vegan summer side dish.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
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 very ripe summer tomatoes, peeled and grated (see ALANNA's TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout (see spice mixture below) or 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup white rice (see TIPS)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (assumer Morton's Kosher Salt)
  • 2 sprigs fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, optional
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 cups water
  • Fresh tomato slices & fresh herbs for garnish, optional

In a large pot, heat the oil until shimmery on medium heat, then stir in the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften. Stir in the jalapeño and garlic, cook for 2 – 3 minutes until jalapeño begins to soften.

Reduce the heat to low (otherwise the sugar in the tomatoes may burn on a higher heat), stir in the tomatoes and Ras el Hanout and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the rice, salt, herbs, tomato juice and water. Let the mixture come to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes, checking every five minutes to adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer.

After 15 minutes, the rice should be cooked but should be 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 el HANOUT You can find ready-made Ras el Hanout in good spice shops but it’s easy to mix at home. For just enough spice mix for one batch of Red 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.

Consider making extra? I’ve used different versions of Ras el Hanout for years but recently settled on this blend. It's great a great spice blend for grilled meat, broiled fish and roast chicken.

NO RAS el HANOUT? No problem. Just use a tablespoon of chili powder as a substitute. Most chili powders will be "spicier" than "spiced" Ras el Hanout so you'll use less and the rice will be hotter than with the blend, still delicious, just spicier.

ALANNA’s TIPS Here’s a quick trick for peeling and grating ripe summer tomatoes at the same time. Cut a ripe tomato in half, then rub the cut side against the large holes of a box grater (put it over a plate to capture the flesh and juices), rubbing off all the flesh, leaving the tomato skin in your hand. But if you’re not picky about tomato skins, just dice the tomatoes. The inspiring recipe calls for a short-grain rice, that means something starchy like a sushi rice or a risotto rice like arborio or carnaroli or a paella rice like bomba. Me? I use whatever rice happens to be on hand: nearly always, that means a long-grain rice like basmati or jasmine.

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 88 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 110mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 2g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 1.5 & PointsPlus 2 & future WW points CALORIE COUNTERS 100-calorie serving = 9 tablespoons (1g protein). This recipe has been "Alanna-sized" with reductions in fat and increases in flavor with extra spices.

Seasonal Cooking: The Height of Summer Across the Years

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This Week, Elsewhere

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from Sugarfire Smokehouse
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My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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A Veggie Venture

If you like Kitchen Parade's recipes, you'll love A Veggie Venture, my food blog about vegetables with more from-scratch recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, home to the famous Alphabet of Vegetables and vegetables in every course, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

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A collection of Rice Cooking Techniques, Recipes & Tips ♥ Recipes include nutrition info & Weight Watchers points.

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Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ rice recipes ~
~ tomato recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2014 & 2023

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Sounds delicious, Alanna! I love your writing style too. Very engaging and warm :)

  2. Bobi from Mexico4/22/2015

    I have been subscribed to Kitchen Parade and Veggie Venture for some time and really enjoy both the column and the blog. Red Rice with Tomatoes is a side that everyone loves.


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna