I grew up calling Arroz Spanish Rice. This followed me into adulthood, and up into my 30′s. I found out not to long ago, that what I learned to call Spanish Rice isn’t so Spanish. It really doesn’t have anything to do with Spain, or how they cook rice in that country (think Paella). Arroz really is Mexican Rice, cooked in a tomato base with peppers, onions and garlic. I’ve been making this rice for as long as I remember, back to when I would stay with my grandparents on the farm. I’ve since perfected it, and made Arroz palatable for the Vegan.
Arroz is traditionally cooked with chicken stock. My version uses vegetable stock which when made right comes close to tasting like chicken stock. So try this recipe out on your non-vegetarian/vegan friends, and don’t tell them there’s no meat in it. They’ll come back for more.
Arroz (Mexican Rice)
2 tbsp Cooking oil
1 cup Rice (your choice)
2 Roma tomatoes pureed
1 ½ cupsVegetable stock
4Tomatoes, pureed (you can use canned tomatoes if you wish)
2 Jalapenos, diced
½ Yellow onion, diced
3-4 Garlic cloves, finely minced
½ bunchCilantro chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Soak rice in water for several hours, then drain.
Heat up a large skillet, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the rice. Toast the rice until it starts turning darker.
Add jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Sautee until the onions are soft and translucent. Pour in the liquid. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cover.
Cook the rice for 35-40 minutes, or until it is done. Take off the heat and add the chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.
In traditional Southwestern cooking, the pinto bean is king. Pintos are in everything. Traditionally, they are the bean that makes up Refried Beans. But pinto beans are starchy, they have a high fat content. And when you add something like lard (traditional way to refry the bean), the calories go off the scale.
In developing Sonoran cooking for those who want no meat but all the flavor, I’ve come up with this little goodie. Smashed black beans. Cooked in a high heat oil like Sunflower, and you can add that flavor, without adding the fat. Beans are also traditionally cooked in some kind of meat stock. I cook mine either in just plain water, or in vegetable stock. Either way, because of the red chili sauce, there’s flavor in this side dish.
Smashed Black Beans
1 cupBlack beans, cooked
½ to ¾ cupsunflower oil (corn oil works better but I have an allergy)
¼ cup Red Chili Sauce
Salt to taste
Heat up a large skillet and add ½ the oil. When the oil is hot, but not boiling, add the beans. Mash with a potato masher until the oil incorporates into the beans. Add ½ the chili sauce, and salt. The beans don’t have to be mashed smooth, just until they are broken up and look close to refried beans. Add more salt if needed.
Lemongrass is a sweet, slightly lemon-ey flavor from Asia. When used properly, it imparts an earthy lemon scent to food. Used in rice, it adds a depth and dimension to whatever dish you are serving it with. This is one of my favorite rice infusions.
Lavender adds a perfume taste and scent to rice. Use a delicate grain like Jasmine for this infusion. Serve on a special occasion like Mother’s Day, and if you can find lavender flowers, they make a great presentation on the platter.
Rice comes in all forms and varieties. The kind of rice you use depends on the application. For sushi, you would use sushi grade rice. For this recipe, you can use almost any kind of rice, even the difficult short grain brown rice. The best thing is to experiment with different flavors and infusions. This simple Herbed Rice lends itself to pilafs, and just a quick lunch.
I’ve been on a culinary quest to make good food even better. Of course starting out with quality ingredients is a key element in cooking. But what can make your food even better then what it is? Technique. In this recipe I sweat the peppers, onion, and garlic before adding them to the quinoa. The trick is then to add salt to the vegetables that are sweating. This brings out more of the natural flavor in the vegetables.
Quinoa is considered a super-food. Extremely high in protein, 0% fat, and easy to cook and season. If you haven’t been introduced to this little seed, commonly classified under grains, give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how versatile it is.
And of course, because I live in the Southwest, and learned to cook here, I’ve got to put my Sonoran spin on these tasty little treats.
2-3 jalapenos, diced (less if you want mild, more if you like the heat)
3-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp coriander, ground
2 tsp lime juice
3-4 tbsp Besan Flour (chickpea/garbonzo bean flour), for gluten-free version
2-3 tbsp all purpose flour for non-gluten free version
1/2 cup black beans, cooked
Salt & Pepper to taste
Oil for frying
Heat up a skillet, and add safflower oil. When the oil is hot, add the peppers, onions, jalapenos, and garlic. Sweat until they are translucent. Cool them down and add to the prepared Quinoa. Add all the spices, lime juice, flour, black beans, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Lay out a sheet tray or cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Make patties approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter, and place on cookie sheet. Put in the freezer to set them up. This prevents the cakes from falling apart during the cooking process.
Heat up a heavy bottomed skillet. Add the cooking oil. Fry patties on both sides to a golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve with Ginger-Lime Jicama salad, and fresh fruit.
Serve these to your family, they’ll fall in love with you all over again.
Recently I fell in love with the Fava Bean. Fava beans are very high in protein and are the national dish of Egypt.
Cassoulets are beans that are slow cooked with meats and vegetables to produce a rich broth and tasty beans. Here I’ve reproduced that process, and added a few flavorful items to brighten up the dish, and removed the meat from the recipe.
Try it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we do.
It might be a bit of a treasure hunt to find Fava Beans. It took me about a week looking in a fairly large market to find this delicious legume.
Here’s the recipe, and as always, open to interpretation.
2 cups dried Fava beans soaked in 6 cups water overnight
6 cups vegetable broth, fresh or store bought
2 tbsp cumin
3-4 garlic* cloves rough chopped
1/8 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ cups small diced white onion
1 ½ cups small diced carrot
1 ½ cups small diced zucchini
1 cup mushrooms of your choice
1 cup chopped spinach
A handful of herbs (thyme, oregano, sage)
Cook the Fava beans in the vegetable broth, with cumin, garlic and lemon juice.
Heat oil in a sturdy stock pot. Add carrots and onions. Saute until tender. Add mushrooms, cook 3-4 more minutes, and then add the zucchini.
Stir in Fava beans and any other legumes you might have that are cooked (I added chickpeas). Add enough water/stock for a good broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Let cook for 2-3 hours. Add spinach and herbs near the end of the cooking.
Serve with crusty bread, or gluten-free tortillas.
*Substitute Ginger for the Garlic, makes for a great base in this dish.