Versatile Spanish Rice

When I was in college and the first couple years living on my own, my idea of a side dish was some lettuce or baby carrots. The first recipe for a side dish I ever attempted was taken out of a Taste of Home cookbook from my mom, circa 1998. I needed a side for salsa chicken (literally salsa put on a chicken breast and baked until done) and this Spanish rice fit the bill.  I’m pretty sure it was the first thing I ever cooked for Landon when we were dating too.

Versatile Spanish Rice

We both could eat Mexican food more days than not (perfect match!) so I used to make this rice all the time.  So much, that I had the recipe completely memorized! A couple weeks ago I realized I hadn’t made it in a very long time and was hungry for it.  I got the few missing grocery items I needed (you probably have nearly all the ingredients in your pantry and freezer) and made it last week. A few minutes in, I realized Cinco de Mayo was coming up so I started taking pictures to share the recipe!


1 cup uncooked long grain rice

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped (I usually just use half an onion because I’m not a big fan)

1 garlic clove, minced

½ tsp salt, optional

2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I have never in my life peeled a tomato and never plan to – much easier)

1 cup water

1 cup chicken broth (Or you know, another cup of water if you don’t have any on hand)

1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed (I use at least a ½ cup and never wait for them to thaw before throwing in)

1/3 cup diced cooked carrots (Again, I use at least a ½ cup and they have never been cooked – just chop up some baby carrots and call it a day)

1 can black beans (Optional – the original recipe doesn’t call for this but I added it this time for a little more protein and fiber)


In a large skillet over medium heat, saute rice in hot oil until lightly browned.

Versatile Spanish Rice

Add the onion, garlic, and salt if desired; cook over low heat until onion is tender.

Versatile Spanish Rice

Add tomatoes; cook over medium heat until softened.

Versatile Spanish Rice

Add water; cover and simmer until water is absorbed (around 10-15 minutes).

Versatile Spanish Rice

Stir in broth, peas, carrots, and optional black beans; cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 10-15 minutes.

How to eat the Spanish rice

As a side dish to tacos, fajitas, salsa chicken, etc.

With shredded cheese and salsa mixed in as a chip dip.  Seriously so good. ??

As a bowl with sliced avocado, a little salsa, and a fried egg on top.

Mix it in with random leftovers for a quesadilla.

Use it for stuffed bell peppers – I really want to try this!

Honestly, the possibilities are endless.  Feliz Cinco de Mayo! ?




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