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Dinner Tonight! | LEARNING TO COOK

Don't It Make My White Rice Green

February 14, 2001|MARION CUNNINGHAM | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Long-grain white rice is one of the most versatile ingredients a beginning cook has. You can cook, steam, boil or bake it, and rice will blend well with almost any other food.

Try this Mexican Green Rice. I like to serve it with roasted pork spare ribs. The ribs are easy-season them with salt and pepper, put them in a roasting pan and bake them at 425 degrees for one hour, turning them halfway through (season the other side when you turn them).

You can make the rice the day before, then reheat it in a casserole alongside the ribs during the last 30 minutes of roasting.

Accompany your meal with warm tortillas, a simple green salad and a small bowl of sour cream for topping the rice. Your guests will think of you as a good cook.

Mexican Green Rice

Active Work Time: 10 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 25 minutes

3 cups water

Salt

1 1/2 cups rice

4 plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon vinegar

4 green onions

1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves

1 (7-ounce) can diced green chiles

Pepper

* Place the water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat. When the water boils, turn the heat to low and slowly pour the rice into the water. Stir the rice in case any grains are sticking to the bottom, cover the pot and set a timer for 20 minutes. Check the rice after 5 minutes to make sure the heat is low and the water isn't boiling furiously.

* Cut the tomatoes lengthwise. Slice the core top off and discard. Put each half flat side down and cut each into about 4 strips lengthwise. Gently hold the strips together and cut in 1/4-inch pieces crosswise. Place the chopped tomatoes in a small bowl and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Sprinkle the tomatoes with vinegar and toss, either using your hands or a fork so the vinegar covers all the pieces. Set aside.

* Slice off the root end of the onions and trim about 2 inches of the coarser green tops. Holding the green onions together, chop them crosswise into thin pieces, 1/8th inch or less. Add them to the bowl with the tomatoes.

* Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems; you need about 1 1/2 cups.

* When the rice is done, taste a little. It should be tender, not firm. If it seems firm, cook it another 5 or 10 minutes and taste again for doneness. Stir in the tomatoes, onions, cilantro leaves and chiles. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

4 servings. Each serving: 103 calories; 785 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.44 grams fiber.

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