Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tomato Coconut Rice

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


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

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