I was planning to be in Portugal this Easter. For a variety of reasons I had to delay my trip. When I was breaking the news to my parents, whom have been anxiously waiting for the visit, my mom remind me: “I still have the tomatoes your uncle brought to us a while ago. I was hoping you could come and I would make a tomato rice for you.” Oh, the tomatoes she was referring to, were some fabulously tasty tomatoes my uncle grows in his garden, among other vegetables and some fruits. My mom says he has a “good hand” for organic cultivation. It’s true, I don’t know how he does it, but everything he brings from that garden is delicious. Besides, we are sure it’s the real thing, since he doesn’t add any kind of “growing helpers” to the seeds. The nature and his care just make it happen.
Before the tomatoes, it was some juicy bell peppers, red and green. And there are the lemons frequently, sometimes pears. Always whenever they are in season. “Well – my mom continues – maybe I’ll freeze these and you still can try it, they’re really good”. I bet they are. Plus, she knows I love tomato rice. When I was still living with them, and there were some tomatoes sitting in the vegetable bowl, or especially positioned close to the sunny light to mature and turn vibrant red, I knew they probably will end in a pan with rice, the one we call “malandrinho” because of the tomato sauce running through the plate. So good. Sometimes cooked with some green peas or salted cod flakes to be a main dish.
I don’t mind to have that rice waiting for me when I arrive in Portugal, hopefully soon. But while I wait to plan the next months, and since we had some tomatoes sitting around in the kitchen, I decided to make, you guessed, a tomato rice. The trick to get a good tomato rice is to use really mature tomatoes that would be totally blended with the rice while cooking. I didn’t make this one as “malandrinho” as I use to, mostly because I wanted to use basmati rice and with too much sauce would probably end to be a little mushy. In case you want to try it, just substitute the rice for a steady kind, like a long grain, brown basmati or parboiled and add a few more tomatoes.
A splendid tomato rice almost doesn’t have any water added to it. The juice of the tomatoes is reasonably enough to cook the rice. In this case, I had vegetable broth left from collard greens, carrots and parsley I cooked for my daughter in the morning and I couldn’t waste such vitaminated water. A couple of spoons gave it an intensive extra flavor.
This rice taste like old memories around my mother’s kitchen or eaten by the sea together with a good fresh fish in a sunny day, before running through the sand and getting the feet into the salty water. Its warmness tastes like laughs and happy faces.Tomato Rice Preparation time: 20 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Serves 4
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 large onion, chopped 3 cloves of garlic, minced 5 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
a bunch of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped 1 1/2 cup of basmati rice 1 cup of vegetable broth (to use as pleased) 1 tsp salt fresh parsley, chopped to sprinkle on top
On the stovetop, heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes, until the onion start to get translucent and golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, the fresh parsley and cook, stirring once in a while for 20 minutes. Wash and rinse the rice and add it to the pan, stirring to mix it with the sauce. Add the salt and the vegetable broth, a little at a time when the sauce starts to evaporate. Cook for 10 minutes. Serve with fresh parsley sprinkled on top.