Mexican Red Rice – a midweek one-pot wonder

This is real fast food that’s as nourishing as it is delicious

Now is the season for warming one-pot wonders. Midweek there is nothing better than only one dish needing to be washed up. This is a perfect family pleasing meal that makes the most of pantry staples like rice, tinned tomatoes and beans. I've called this Mexican Red Rice as it is based on the traditional red rice eaten in Mexico but with a few nice additions to make it a main meal.

Peas are usually added but I’ve used  Kidney beans (or use black beans) for protein and texture. Lots of fresh coriander and spring onions add lightness and taste. I love to load this rice up with lots of flavour. If you find the recommended amount of spices too little then feel free to add more.

It makes one huge pot of rice and the leftovers are even better the next day. It’s lovely as a cold rice salad for lunchboxes. I usually layer the cold leftover rice on a tortilla wrap and add feta or grated sharp cheddar and extra jalapenos and tomato salsa, then roll up and bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes. It’s real fast food that’s as nourishing as it is delicious.

I usually use basmati for green or red rice but chose to use brown basmati here as it doesn’t stick like regular white rice and makes for a beautiful texture with no clumps. If you have your heart set on white rice then make sure you rinse it really well in a sieve under running water to get rid of any excess starchiness. White rice will only take about 10 minutes to cook.


So many cultures have their own variation of the “one pot rice dish”. Each one, be it Risotto, Pilaf or Paella, are really great recipes to have at hand when feeding a family, or more than four people at least. Arroz de Sustancia is another Portuguese rice dish that literally means “nourishing rice”. Like this dish the rice is cooked in crushed tomatoes and stock with plenty of vegetables added. I have come across some versions of this Mexican red rice where a jar of shop-bought tomato salsa is stirred through ready-cooked rice but really, make a gorgeous version properly first and see how it should be done. This rice is perfect for stuffing into peppers or tomatoes for baking. It’s completely plant based as it stands but if you’re not vegan, crumble a handful of cool feta over the hot rice before serving.

Mexican Red Rice

Serves 6

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 300g carrots, peeled and diced
  • 125g spring onions, sliced including the green tops
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 300g brown basmati rice
  • 450ml water
  • 230g cooked kidney beans, drained
  • 20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped

To serve: Extra fresh spring onion and coriander to garnish, wedges of lime,  jalapeno peppers, tomato salsa.

Preparation: Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan. Add the spring onions and carrot. Sauté for five minutes, stirring, before adding the garlic and spices. Stir for another minute to toast the spices then pour in the tomatoes and water. Season well with salt. Bring to the boil then add the rice. Leave to simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the kidney beans and stir thoroughly with a fork. Place the lid back on and leave to steam for a further 10 minutes. Gently stir through the fresh coriander. Scatter with additional coriander and freshly sliced spring onions before serving. Serve with wedges of lime, tomato salsa and sliced jalapeno peppers.