When I was growing up, most of our food came out of a box or a can. I swear I was married before I knew mashed potatoes didn’t come solely in flake variety. I’d never seen anyone mash a potato.
There are times I miss some of the flavors of the highly processed foods I ate growing up. For health reasons, I just won’t buy them anymore. One flavor I missed in particular was from a food called Spanish rice. Now I would assume paella when I hear Spanish rice, but this is not paella. So I did a bit of experimenting and research online and this is the recipe I created. I make substitutions as needed to use what I have on hand.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Adjust things to your own tastes and what you have on hand. I can’t stress this enough. Obviously, you’ll need rice to make a rice dish but after that, the possibilities are limited only to your imagination and the foods to which you have access. For me, the cumin, tomatoes, capers, and celery flavors are essential to this dish. There is something lacking if I’m out of peppers and beans but I’ve made do without them. I’ve also experimented with adding corn.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sweet onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded, ribs removed, and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 can black beans
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of low sodium chicken base dissolved in 2 cups of water
2 T capers with juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablepoon cumin
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat
- Add the garlic and heat to allow the aroma to develop, stir frequently, do not let the garlic get too brown
- Add the onions, green peppers, and celery and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes
- Add the rice and stir well
- Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, black beans, and capers
- Season with the salt and pepper, and add the cumin, if using. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is done, stirring occasionally. If rice is still crunchy, add more liquid and continue to cook. I’ve had types of rice that took double the suggested amount of water and needed to cook for 40 or more minutes.
I have this big wok that I use to make this. I always make a double batch and then freeze half of it. Often, it tastes better after it’s been frozen, though that may be psychological. Everything tastes better when you don’t have to cook it.
It doesn’t look appealing in my old wok, but it tastes amazing and it is really filling. I could picture one adding chicken, shrimp or both for a complete one-dish meal.
For this incarnation, I used black-eyed peas, 3 poblano peppers, and 2 small hot peppers. I don’t know the variety. We bought the pepper plant at a PTA plant sale at my son’s school. It was labeled as jalapeno but was similar in appearance to a peppercini only it had a lot more heat than a peppercini.