Spanish Rice is a fragrant rice preparation made primarily using white rice, tomatoes and some specific flavouring agents as the main ingredients. Although this preparation has gained popularity by the name of Spanish rice, it actually traces its origin to Mexico and was called Spanish rice as it became extremely well-accepted in the South-western states of America. Since the Spanish language is spoken by the local Mexican people, the dish is also called ‘Arroz’ which means rice. This Spanish Rice casserole is often served as a side dish as part of Mexican cuisine.
Spanish Rice recipes as adapted by the American Southwest make liberal use of fairly large vegetables pieces that may be either grilled or stewed together to create a typical Tex-Mex style of rice. The Authentic Spanish Rice recipe predominant in the South American continent presents a more uniform texture with use of required amounts of tomato and red chilli peppers that impart the characteristic reddish colour. With garlic and onion providing the dominant flavours, this Spanish rice is a quick, easy to make rice treat for the entire family.
Ingredients and Preparation
Spanish rice recipes can display spectacular variety using the basic Spanish rice recipe as a foundation for creating numerous variants.
Major ingredients are cooked rice, chopped onions, garlic, chopped green bell peppers, chopped celery, melted butter, tomato puree or finely diced tomatoes with juice; seasoned with salt, pepper, and some Mexican Cheeses combined together.
In a skillet, butter is slowly melted over low heat, chopped onions, garlic, green bell peppers and celery are sautéed until vegetables turn tender. The cooked rice and chopped/pureed tomatoes are added one after the other. After seasoning with required amounts of salt and pepper, the rice is removed from the gas and grated cheese is finally stirred in.
• Crockpot Spanish Rice uses browned beef, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce in addition to the basic ingredients (rice is used raw in this case). This dish employs the slow cooking procedure wherein all the ingredients are stirred together and covered in the Crockpot before slow cooking on low heat for 6 to 7 hours or high heat for 3 to 4 hours.
• Another simple variation is when the rice is sautéed until it turns slightly brown. This sautéed rice is then added to a stock consisting of chicken broth cooked with tomatoes and seasonings like onions, garlic, cumin, cilantro and parsley. Additional vegetables such as carrots, beans, peas, and corn may also be added depending on the recipe.
• Another variant is the Spanish Chicken and Spicy Lemony rice using boiled chicken shreds added to the base ingredients and flavoured with special spices and topped with tangy lemon juice.
• Beef combines well with this form of rice and therefore Spanish Rice casserole with Ground Beef or bacon is another popular variant.
A single cup serving size of the Authentic Spanish Rice provides-
• Total of 214 calories with a break up of carbohydrates providing 161 calories, fats 33 and proteins contributing 20 calories.
• Total carbohydrate content of 41.7 g with 3 g of soluble dietary fibre and 38.7 g of all other carbohydrates.
• Total fat content of 3.6 g, with 3 g of unsaturated fats and saturated fat making up remaining 0.6 g.
• Total protein content of 5 g.
With use of beef and other meats, the calorific value along with protein and fat content would be higher.
• A completely vegetarian variant of the Spanish Rice may be prepared by using vegetable stock, tomato puree and kidney beans. This would improve the protein quality owing to complementary amino acids in beans and rice, thereby providing biologically complete proteins. These beans would enhance nutritional value by supplying phytonutrients and also produce a feeling of satiety, thereby making portion control possible assisting overweight persons. Owing to the fibre value and relatively low glycemic value, this variant would be suitable for those with elevated cholesterol and diabetes. Iron and Calcium, important minerals needed for production of red blood cells, muscle and heart function and bone health are supplied in this dish.
• Use of carrots, beans, corn kernels, and mushrooms would not only add taste to the dish but enhance nutritive value by providing vitamins, minerals and antioxidant nutrients like Vitamins A, C, E, K; minerals phosphorus, potassium, etc. Mushrooms have cholesterol, weight reducing properties, and Ergothioneine the powerful antioxidant boosts immunity and displays anti-cancer activity in combination with other A, C and B-complex vitamins. Mushrooms are unique in being a vegetarian source of Vitamin D. Selenium and copper are also supplied.
• Whey protein water obtained after removal of solid curds, may be used in place of tomatoes for those persons who need to avoid tomatoes due to Arthritis concerns, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or kidney stones. Whey water supplies plenty of amino acids that are required by the body for growth and tissue repair functions.
• Use of sliced green and black olives that are high in monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E as a garnish would be a wise choice. These also contain polyphenolic compounds and flavonoids with anti-inflammatory properties benefiting those experiencing Arthritic pain.