Mexican Rice (made with brown rice)

Since this recipe uses brown rice rather than white, it’s made like a fried rice.  The vegetables would turn to complete mush if they were simmered with the brown rice until it was done.  Instead, the vegetables are sauteed briefly before being fried with day-old rice.  So be sure to cook the rice in advance–or employ this recipe when you have leftover rice to use up.

This recipe is also part of the taco bar described in Easy Entertaining:  Make Your Own Taco Bar.

  • 1 Tbsp. safflower or other unflavored oil
  • 1 med. yellow onion, diced to ¼”
  • 1 med. green bell pepper, diced to ¼”
  • 3 med. tomatoes, seeds and juices removed, then diced to to ½”
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, more or less, to taste
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced (bottled is fine)

Saute Vegetables and Spices In a very large, (12-13”) heavy-bottomed saute pan, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add onions and cook and stir fairly often for just 2-3 minutes.  Do the same for the green peppers, then lower heat to medium, stir in tomatoes and cook and stir just 2-3 minutes until they are just beginning to soften and dry out.  Sprinkle chili powder and garlic over vegetables and cook another 2 minutes to meld flavors.  Remove vegetable mixture to a large serving bowl.  If pan is dirty, rinse.

  • 1 Tbsp. safflower or other unflavored oil
  • 3 cups brown rice, preferably 2-3 days old
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste blended with about ¼ cup hot water, broth or cooking liquid from beans

Fry the Rice Pour oil into center of saute pan and heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking.  Add rice, breaking up clumps and spreading evenly over pan.  Allow to cook 3-4 minutes and brown slightly before turning.  Cook another 3-4 minutes.  Pour tomato paste mixture evenly over rice, then continue frying, stirring and scraping bottom of pan until everything is well-mixed and heated through.  Stir in reserved vegetables.

  • Sea salt, to taste (about ½ tsp., depending upon whether rice was cooked in salt)
  • 1-2 limes, juiced (2 to 4 Tbsp.)

Season & Serve Taste and add salt, to taste, then sprinkle with lime juice, to taste.


Serves:   4 as a vegetarian main dish, 6-8 as a side dish

Options and Variations

  • Make It a One-Dish Meal:  Corn, shrimp (cooked and diced), black beans (rinsed and well drained) or even cooked hamburger or TVP can be added, making this dish substantial enough to serve as an entree.
  • Tofu Version:  Speaking of main dishes, tofu can be substituted for the rice to make a vegetarian entree or taco filling.  In this case, the tomatoes and tomato paste are optional.
  • Wrap It in a Tortilla:  Great for a quick lunch.  Be sure to use whole grain tortialls.
  • Optional Garnishes:  In addition to fresh lime juice, top with any of chopped fresh cilantro, cheese, sour cream, guacamole or avocados.

Ingredient Notes for Better Success

1. Rice:  Use Brown and Leftover

  • Brown is Best:  Although Mexican rice is typically made with white rice, brown rice is far more nutritious and so flavorful that no one (especially kids) will notice or complain.  Long grain brown will be fluffier and less sticky, but I’ve had good success with short grain brown, as long as it is at least a day old and cold.
  • Leftover Is Best:  Somewhat like stir-fried rice, this recipe works best with rice that’s one (or two or three) days old.  So plan to cook a batch in advance or employ this recipe to use up a leftover batch.

2. Vegetable Prepping:  Complete Before Cooking

Also like fried rice, the vegetables in this dish are sauteed over high heat so they are practically stir-fried.  So, as with stir-fry, be sure to prep all the vegetables before beginning to cook, so they can be added quickly and your attention can be focused on burn prevention.

3. Tomatoes:  Get Rid of Seeds and Juice

To prevent the rice from becoming gummy and sticky, use a small spoon to scoop the seeds and juices from tomatoes, so that only the outer flesh remains.  Reserve the tomato “innards” for use in another dish, like taco filling or chili.


2 Responses

  1. […] Mexican Rice and Fried Tofu with Green Peppers I put this recipe in a separate post, since this one is getting long. Fried Tofu with Green Peppers […]


  2. […] accommodate the longer cooking times or heartier flavors and whole grains.  This was the case with Mexican Rice.  I love this dish, but it didn’t seem possible to make with brown rice since the vegetables […]


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