Tomato Coconut Rice

Flooded Rice Paddy

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Years ago, Bob and I spent several weeks traveling through the American South. We were, of course, charmed by the people and the compelling history of the region. I loved the whole of the Natchez Trace and I wasn't sure that Bob, having found Savannah, would ever leave her. Savannah, save for its famed red rice, spoke to his sensibilities. Now in fairness to him, I must tell you that Spanish rice was a dinner staple when we were children and I think he simply had had his fill of anything that resembled it. Even Savannah Red Rice couldn't tempt him. I wanted to try some Southern meals this week, so I spent some time looking for side dishes that would work nicely with our main courses. I can happily report that I found one that is so delicious that even Bob will eat it. It comes from Joyce White's cookbook "Soul Food." It is very loosely based on the red rice that is served across the South, but there are decided Asian overtones as well. The secret ingredient is the coconut milk and that's decidedly unsouthern unless you find yourself in Thailand or South Vietnam. The rice bakes in the oven and uses every day ingredients to produce a unique accompaniment to grilled meat or poultry. The recipe can be doubled and brown basmati rice can also be used to prepare it. If you opt to use brown rice you should add an additional 20 minutes to the baking time that's stated in the recipe. I really think you'll love this. I know I did. Here's the recipe.

Tomato Coconut Rice...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, courtesy of Joyce White

2 to 3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or parsley
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 cup basmati rice rice
2 cups finely chopped plum tomatoes or well-drained petite diced tomatoes
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart ovenproof baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2) Heat oil in a medium skillet. Stir in onion, herb and bell pepper and sauté 4 or 5 minutes, stirring. Stir in rice and sauté 2 or 3 minutes longer, stirring. Remove pan from heat.
3) Spoon rice mixture into baking dish. Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk, salt, black pepper and pepper flakes. Mix well. Cover baking dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
4) Place dish on the lower oven rack and bake for about 40 minutes, or until he rice is tender, and all liquid is absorbed, stirring a couple times. Cook for another 20 minutes if using brown rice. Serve hot as a side dish to baked fish, roast chicken or meat dishes. Yield: 6 servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:
Yangzhou Fried Rice - One Perfect Bite
Wild Rice, Celery and Walnut Salad - One Perfect Bite
Warm Asian-Style Rice Salad - One Perfect Bite