Get Out Of Your Pasta Rut With This Easy Rice Recipe

Photo: Courtesy of James Ransom/Food52.
By Merrill Stubbs
Our house is a pasta-loving house. We should just move to Italy and call it a day. But since that's not happening anytime soon, I thought it might be time to break out of the pasta rut we've all been happily wallowing in and add some other starches to the mix.
While I'm an equal opportunity pasta-sauce eater, Clara and Jonathan are both red sauce — or "gravy," as my husband's fellow New Jerseyans call it — devotees. I make a batch of some kind of tomato-based sauce pretty much every week to satisfy the beasts. A couple of weeks ago, instead of serving it over tortellini or fusilli as per usual, I decided to use the sauce to create a simple riff on pauljoseph's Tomato Rice — more Italian, less Indian.
I also happened to have some leftover escalivada in the fridge, which I chopped up a bit and used as a base for the dish so it wasn't just rice and tomato sauce (you can also start with diced onion and red pepper, which I've also done). I used long grain brown rice because I had it in the pantry and because I thought the nutty flavor would add a little more complexity.
Tomato Rice
Makes about 3 cups
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup long grain brown rice
1. Heat the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and pepper and a large pinch of salt and stir to coat. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let the vegetables brown — if necessary, add a splash of water to prevent this.)
2. Add the tomatoes and another large pinch of salt to the pan and stir to combine. Raise the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until you have what resembles a thick sauce.
3. Stir in the rice, 2 1/2 cups cold water and a couple more pinches of salt. Bring to a brisk simmer, and cook uncovered for 5 to 8 minutes without stirring, until the liquid on the surface is mostly gone. Stir the rice briefly, cover and turn the heat down as low as it will go.
4. Cook the rice, without removing the lid, for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the pot sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

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