Tomato rice is a kind of ‘everywhere’ dish, found on the plate alongside grilled prawns, flattened chickens or grilled fish. So it’s not usually meant to be in the leading role, but it’s very good all the same. You could make it the star by adding a few more vegetables such as celery, zucchini (courgettes) and carrots, all chopped up and cooked with the onion until sticky. Or add a tablespoon of chopped rosemary, or another herb, with the tomatoes at the beginning for a different flavour. And you could serve it drizzled with piri piri oil. If you don’t have lovely ripe tomatoes, then tinned will be better than not-quite-ripe-enough.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red pepper (capsicum), seeded and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 small fresh bay leaf
- 4 very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 400g tin chopped tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 20g butter
- coarse salt
- 400g medium-grain rice
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion until sticky and golden. Add the pepper and cook until everything is jammy and turning golden. Add the garlic, parsley and bay leaf and, when you start to smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, paprika, butter, about 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and a little pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes, mashing up the tomatoes a bit but still leaving a few chunks.
Add the rice and turn it through well to mix in the flavours. Add 1 litre of water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, checking that nothing is sticking. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice, cover and leave for 10 minutes before you serve. Fluff it through again — it should’ve absorbed most of the liquid and be just right, in which case serve immediately. If it’s too firm, leave it covered for a while longer. Best hot, but also good at room temperature.