Mexican Rice (Recipe)

I had leftover Mexican rice for lunch the other day and, even though I didn’t heat it back up, it tasted pretty good.That got me thinking of a conversation I recently had with my sister and about the list that resulted from it. There are three kinds of foods : those that just taste so much better the next day, those that work either way (today or tomorrow, hot or cold) and those that should simply never reach the leftover shelf in the fridge.

10 foods that are always better the next day:

Homemade vegetable soup (unless it has tiny noodles that will get soggy)

Mom’s Christmas Eve posole (made with hominy and fresh green chili)

Birthday cake (but only when eaten for breakfast)

Lasagna (the cheese gets even crustier when reheated)

Gaspacho (with lots of tomatoes)

Thanksgiving leftovers (no comment)

Steamed green beans (sprinkled with soy sauce/sesame seeds, served cold)

Curried lentils (they only get stronger)

Hummus (with garlic)

Chocolate mousse (if it lasts that long)

It’ll still be good tomorrow, even cold:

Omelet (really, it’s not bad)

Leek Quiche (to eat with your hands)

Mexican rice (to eat with a fork)

Pizza (yeah, I think I’m over the breakfast thing though)

Elbow pasta (turn it into a salad)

Baked salmon (on a sandwich)

Vinaigrette (…and the next day, and the next day…)

Moelleux au chocolat (though it’s no longer moelleux)

Basil pesto (so many uses)

Homemade apple pie (or any pie for that matter)

Devour it now, ‘cause it won’t be the same in the morning:


Caesar salad

Half a banana saved in the fridge


Homemade sushi

Vegetable tempura

Grilled cheese sandwich

Bagel with cream cheese

Fresh spring rolls

Mayo and sprout sandwich

(Do I really have to comment on these?)

Back to the Mexican rice.
It’s kind of like risotto, in the sense that you begin by browning the uncooked rice in olive oil. I was inspired to recreate the flavorful rice that accompanies the “northern” New Mexican food back in Santa Fe, so I put in several familiar ingredients such as onions and hot chili powder. Since we don’t have freshly roasted hatch green chili in Paris, I used some fiery red peppers from the local farmers’ market. Though I didn’t do it this time, I think fresh corn (which is in season right now) or red beans (for example) would be welcome additions.

This recipe makes enough for four – or for two with leftovers!

Shopping List

1 cup white rice

2 large pinches saffron powder

Chili powder (adjust according to spiciness)

½ chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

1 small, spicy red pepper or prepared green chili (diced)

2 bay leaves

½ cup diced tomato

Olive oil


Cilantro (on top)

Black olives (on top)


1. In a cast iron skillet, sauté the rice in a bit of olive oil with the saffron and chili powder (about 5 minutes).

2. When the rice begins turning translucent, add the onions, garlic, peppers or green chili and brown (about 5 more minutes).

3. Cover with water and add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and some salt. Bring to a boil.

5. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer until the rice is completely cooked (about 20 minutes). Keep adding water in small amounts as needed (avoid letting the water run out and the rice burning on the bottom). Stir occasionally.

6. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Top with cilantro and black olives. Serve with your favorite Mexican classics: enchiladas, fajitas, rellanos…

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