I don’t like Spanish rice or the rice served in most Mexican restaurants. (I know, that’s tantamount to saying I don’t like chocolate!) But, in fact, with the exception of a particularly delicious paella I once enjoyed in Spain and a fine recipe I have for cabbage rolls, I don’t like rice and tomatoes cooked together! And I know, once again I am in the minority. (I’m actually quite OK with that!) So when I wanted to serve Mexican food before one of our in-home concerts, I realized I was going to have to go on an internet search for the perfect Mexican rice dish, sans tomatoes. (Remember, it’s really just all about me!) And there, in living color on a web site entitled Creative Culinary, I found the perfect side dish rice recipe. To my thinking it is absolutely the quintessential rice dish to serve with Mexican food. (I did make a couple of changes, but the bones of the recipe are from my web search.) This rice is not what I refer to as a “filler” dish. In other words, it can stand proudly by itself and need not feel inferior to the other dishes I may be serving. (I truly want all my dishes to feel equally loved.) And, as is so often the case with fabulous dishes, it is also lovely with other types of cuisine. So if you too happen to be in the minority on tomatoes and rice being well suited for each other, I promise you will not be disappointed with this recipe, unless of course, you can’t abide cilantro. If that’s the case, and I understand because I too did not appreciate cilantro until a few years back, you are just plain out of luck today. But stick around; tomorrow’s recipe could be exactly what you have been searching for your entire adult life. Well, it could!!


  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. minced Serrano chili
  • 2 c. long-grain white rice
  • 3 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt

Heat oil in a large covered saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic, Serrano, and rice; sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes more. Mix in broth and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook until rice is just tender and broth is absorbed, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and set aside until lukewarm, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve add Cilantro Dressing. If the rice seems too dry after it has been dressed, add a tad more olive oil. Rice can be prepared 2 hours ahead without refrigeration. (If you are making the rice way ahead of time, refrigerate before you add the dressing. Remove from refrigerator a couple of hours before you plan to serve.

Cilantro Dressing:

  • 1/2 c. (packed) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. minced seeded Serrano chili
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor; blend until almost smooth.   (Can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and whisk before adding to cooked rice.) Serve rice warm or at room temoerature.