Elevate Mexican Rice With The Help Of Roasted Tomatoes

Mexican rice in clay pot
Mexican rice in clay pot - Adela Srinivasan/Getty Images

There are lots of different styles of Mexican rice, from standard white to bright arroz verde, but when most people in the U.S. refer to it, they are talking about the tomato-flavored red rice. Ubiquitous at restaurants and taco stands across the country, it's lightly sweet and savory flavor is the perfect pairing for endless dishes, and seems like it should be a cinch to prepare at home. But like so many restaurant meals, homemade results often seem to fall flat, probably tasting perfectly good, but not quite reaching the heights you know from your local mom and pop. So how do you squeeze more flavor into your Mexican rice without compromising the simplicity of the dish? You roast some tomatoes.

Recipes for Mexican rice will vary in their recommendations, from fresh diced tomatoes to canned versions, or even bottled sauce, and all of them can benefit from a little cooking. Roasting tomatoes makes them sweeter and more intense as the heat drives off moisture and concentrates the flavor. It also has the benefit of helping to get rid of the metallic taste that canned tomatoes can sometimes have. Finally, the heat will also char and caramelize your tomatoes, adding extra depth that even good fresh tomatoes don't have. And all that extra goodness will end up in your rice.

Read more: 25 Delicious Ways To Use Up Leftover Rice

Roasted Tomatoes Are A Big Flavor Boost To Your Homemade Mexican Rice

roasted tomatoes sliced
roasted tomatoes sliced - Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

You can cook the tomatoes for your rice a few different ways, depending on how much time you have. The more flavorful method is slow roasting in an oven, because that will drive off the most moisture. At 300 F, halved peeled tomatoes will take around an hour to fully cook down, but you can increase the temperature to 450 F and roast them in as little as a half an hour. If you want to go quicker, you can opt for a broiler, or cook your tomatoes on the stovetop in a pan. Both these methods will start to char the tomatoes and cook them in under five minutes, but won't produce as deep a flavor all the way through.

Once your tomatoes are roasted, they can be blended and added to rice that has been toasted beforehand in the same amount called for in your recipe. Instead of just being a lightly red-tinted recipe that still tastes mostly plain, your Mexican rice will actually taste of tomatoes, and their sweetness will also help bring out the other flavors, as well. Combine that with some of the other tips we have for making Mexican rice and you'll be astounded at how much better the result can be with the exact same basic ingredients. You might just end up being the one with Mexican rice that makes other people ask: How did they make this?

Read the original article on Tasting Table.