Simple Fare

Variation on rice

Posted 3/25/20

One of the favorite questions in our household is “Do you have any thoughts for dinner?” Generally, the answer lies in what might be leftover in the fridge that can be reconstructed, as …

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Simple Fare

Variation on rice


One of the favorite questions in our household is “Do you have any thoughts for dinner?” Generally, the answer lies in what might be leftover in the fridge that can be reconstructed, as well as what staples we might have that need to be used up.

With trips to the grocery store more of a weekly thing rather than daily to pick something up, our thoughts go to what staples do we have (or do we need) in our pantry. Generally, we have different varieties of rice, beans and canned tomatoes.

Since there’s no way to know what you might have in your pantry or freezer, we decided to make a recipe with rice that could be adapted depending on what you might have.

As a basic, we wanted to use rice and complement the protein with beans.

As I went for a walk, Stephen began to experiment. His recipe for tomato rice and beans is below.

Basically, we used a cup of rice, a can of beans and a can of tomatoes. After trimming the parts that weren’t in good shape, we also added a couple of tomatoes that had been left at the office and chopped up a large onion. Stephen used Mexican flavored spices. (Interestingly enough, the dish had a taste of cinnamon, which we couldn’t figure out until reading the label of the chili powder, which had cinnamon in it.)

We topped the dish with some smoked cheese that we had—although any kind of cheese, or no cheese at all, would work just fine.

In thinking about variations, you could add in cooked chicken, uncooked beef or pork that has been browned, a diced chicken breast, or some sausage links before sautéing rice. I have often added a cup of diced celery and diced carrots to rice dishes as well. Just throw them with the onions. Cabbage works as well.

In general, rice gives you a lot of options to change up.

So the next time your family asks you, “Do you have any ideas for dinner?” you can invite them to experiment with you.

To share your experience, jump over to TRR Simple Fare on Facebook.


1 onion, chopped to your preference (save the ends and the skin to make broth)
1 cup (uncooked) brown basmati rice (or your favorite rice)
3 teaspoons cumin
3 teaspoons coriander
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust for your heat level)
1 chopped serrano pepper, seeds removed (optional for added heat)
3 cups broth or water
1 can diced tomatoes (I also had two tomatoes that needed to be used)
1 tablespoon (or to your liking) oil (olive, coconut, or your favorite)
1 can of your favorite beans, drained

Method: (Serves 3-4)

Heat the oil in a sturdy skillet (I like cast iron) and add the onion. Sauté on low to medium heat until soft, about five minutes. Stir in the rice and heat for five minutes over medium heat. Add the spices and continue to sauté onions, rice and spices over medium heat for three to five minutes. (This dry heating increases the aromatic qualities of the spices.) Add the tomatoes (canned or fresh, or as in my case, rescued from the brink of being composted) and stir to mix. Add three cups of broth or water, and use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the skillet to loosen any spices or onions or rice that may have stuck to the pan. Bring to a slow boil, reduce heat and cover. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure that there is enough liquid to keep from burning, and also to completely cook the rice. Add more water or broth, a little at a time, to keep the rice moist, but not runny. Add the beans during the last five minutes to heat them.

This fed the both of us and we had about a quart left over.

rice, beans, pantry, staples


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