September 06, 2021. Dear Kids– The best recipe is a recipe that someone else makes for you- especially if that someone else is your kid. It’s just that kind of recipe I have for you today!
The last few weeks have been a marathon across several states, with many obstacles and challenges that have certainly tired me out, so you can imagine my joy upon finishing up my last back breaking task the other day and coming through the door, almost as hungry as I was worn out, to be greeted by the most delicious smell from the kitchen. I made it up the few stairs, as a big smile came to my face once I saw the pan of Tenacious Z’s Tomatoës and Rice that the eldest of you two made for breakfast- with plenty left for the rest of us!
As I powered down a bowl I took with me on the road to a Covid test (Don’t eat and drive kids, from the latest episode of “Do as I Say, Not as I Do”), I was lost in the simple deliciousness of a dish I had overlooked until you, dear child, brought it into our house a few months ago, after you had been making it often at school, thanks to your food loving roommate, Tenacious Z, who grew up happily eating this dish.
As the taste of the dish lingered in my mouth and mind, as the day continued and I started to wonder what the heck was I going to make for my latest post after such a busy few weeks, it struck me that I could simply pinch your recipe under such adverse circumstances.
So, at the risk of incurring your and Z’s wrath, I give you the Dad’s version of Tenacious Z’s Tomatoës and Rice with a few Dad changes from the version you shared with me- like adding some garden tomatoes to the mix (you say only Roma tomatoes will do) and making it a one pot meal to save on clean up (you cook your rice separately from the tomatoes and mix them together at the end). Perhaps you, your sibling and Z can give it a try to see what you think.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 27
GET YOUR STUFF OUT
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion (about one cup or 5 ounces) of your choice, minced
- 3 or more fat cloves of garlic, grated, pressed or minced
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 3-4 cups) tomatoes of your choice, diced
- kosher salt to taste
- fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups of long grain, white rice, like basmati
- 2 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetable broth
- hot sauce or red pepper flakes to taste, optional
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish, optional
- minced fresh herbs of choice for garnish, optional
- a handful of colorful grape tomatoes for garnish, optional
COOK AND PLAY
Play Low Hangin’ Fruit by Tenacious D (clean version, of course) while you cut up your fruit.
1. Onions and Garlic- A Good Start. Start a large sauce pan or deep saute/frying pan, that has a lid, over medium heat and once it is hot, add oil, then onions and a bit of salt. Saute onions until they start to turn golden, about 6 minutes- then add garlic for a minute or so.
2. Bring on the Main Attractions. Stir in tomatoes to coat evenly with contents of pan, then let them cook down, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes soften to your tastes- 5-10 minutes. Taste tomatoes and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper. Stir in rice and toast for a bit- 3-5 minutes- being careful not to burn the garlic.
3. Simmer Time. Add broth, bring to a boil, adjust heat to a simmer before covering pan and let rice cook until it’s tender, checking after 15 minutes to see how you like it- it may need a few minutes more and a bit more broth, but you be the judge.
4. Anything Else?. Spoon into serving bowls or on a platter, Family Style, and garnish, if you like, with lemon wedges, fresh herbs, more extra virgin olive oil, halved grape tomatoes or whatever feels right for you.
What’s This I Hear About Rinsing Rice? White rice contains surface starch so your cooked rice will be sticky or creamy which works well for sushi (sticky), risotto (creamy) and rice pudding (creamy), but not for most other recipes. So if you would rather not have sticky or creamy rice, it’s a good idea to rinse the starch off your rice. To do this, fill a bowl with water, pour rice into a strainer and swish it around in the bowl of water- dump out and refill water and repeat until water in the bowl is clear, rinsing rice in strainer one last time before using. PS- you can also eliminate the surface starch and more dishes by toasting the rice, which is what I did in this recipe.
Tomatoës. I know you told me the only tomato for Tenacious Z’s Tomatoës and Rice is the Roma Tomatoes because of its low moisture content, but I say you miss out on a whole world of tomatoes and flavors if you limit yourself in the tomato department, which is especially true this time of year when gardens are brimming with an abundance of home grown tomatoes. So why not add some other tomatoes, along with or instead of your beloved Romas and see what you think. As for the moisture, you can cook the tomatoes a bit longer to dry them out if you cook the rice separately, as you do, or use less broth to cook the rice if you cook it as a one pot meal, as I do.
One Pot or Not. You have also always made this with two pots- one for the tomato sauce and another for the rice, but, I don’t like extra dishes, so it’s a one pot dish for me, which you might want to try when you have more dishes to get in the way of your life, like I have.
A World of Flavors. Apparently, I have been one of the last people in the world to get on board with tomatoes and rice, with a United Nations’ list of variations inspired by many countries around the world, pleasing palates near and far. So be like Dora and explore (or swipe) some of these flavors inspired by the countries around the globe-
African- add red onions, tomato paste, poblano or peppers, scotch bonnet peppers, Caribbean/Jamaican style curry powder, dried thyme and blend it all into the broth for a smooth finish to the dish.
French- add parsley, thyme and top with gruyere cheese, melted under the broiler to finish.
Indian- add ginger, chilis, cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, cilantro, bay leaf curry leaf and finish with yogurt drizzled on top.
Italian- make it risotto style, like I showed you in Risotto For Any Season .
Mexican- puree tomatoes and add bell and jalapeño peppers, chili powder and cilantro.
Middle East. swap out fresh tomatoes for 3 tablespoons tomato paste and add just a bit of fresh diced tomatoes, ground turmeric, cinnamon and fresh dill.
Spanish- similar to Mexican, sometimes with a hint of saffron (the most expensive spice) added.
Vietnamese- swap out fresh tomatoes for 3 tablespoons tomato paste, fish sauce and soy sauce, with chopped cilantro and thinly sliced scallions to finish.
US South- add bacon (no surprises here), celery, bell pepper and hot sauce.
Make It A Meal. It doesn’t take much to make this a meal- top with a 6 Minute-ish Boiled or Fried Egg; roasted vegetables or some shelled and deveined shrimp thrown in for the last few minutes of cooking, ala Frank Stitts, or whatever other quick cooking or leftover protein sounds good to you.
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