Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner… are you having a Mexican themed party or meal? Mexican food is something that I’ve never really had a love affair with like most people, but over the past few years I’ve grown an appreciation for it. Part of that has to do with the rice! The first time I remember trying Mexican Rice I was in love. The tomato, the garlic and the spice – love it! The perfect side dish for quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas…. and, goes perfectly with a big ol’ margarita!
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 medium white onion, peeled, trimmed and quartered
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
3 medium jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and move a rack to the middle position. Process tomatoes and onions in the food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary. Transfer the mixture a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess or add water so that the volume equals 2 cups).
Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium; add the garlic and minced jalapenos; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan an transfer to the oven; bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.
Stir in cilantro (if desired) and serve with lime wedges.