Green rice is one of the best possible side dishes, or even fillings, when it’s taco or enchilada night. The only problem is that rice isn’t exactly a weeknight-friendly side dish, especially when you’re making it in super flavorful pilaf style. Factor in the green rice thing, and now you’re either chopping for 20 minutes or hauling out the food processor. No, none of these things make green rice easy or accessible on a weeknight, but I think I’ve discovered the solution!
I love hosting dinner parties. Usually they’re casual, and no one in attendance would say they are at a dinner party, but it brings me true joy and satisfaction to have friends or family over for an evening in which their every need is taken care of. So I go the whole nine yards with the menu, carefully planning the entrée and sides, with appetizers and desserts to fit the theme and complement the other dishes.
However, it recently dawned on me that I am not the most organized cook after a glass (or three) of wine, or, if it’s Tex-Mex night, margaritas (especially at the strength I’m prone to mixing them). Or maybe I’m deep in conversation or the dog has to go out or someone’s drink is empty. Things come up, and with that acknowledgement, my menus have become almost entirely of the make ahead variety. The most I have to do is arrange a platter of cheese, pop a casserole dish in the oven, dress the salad, or…in today’s case…MICROWAVE the rice.
Microwave the rice? For guests? Doesn’t that leave us with mushy or wet or dry rice, or something? Actually, as I recently discovered, when done correctly (which is quite simple), it leaves us with perfectly separated, fluffy grains of green rice. Actually green brown rice, but that makes for an awkward recipe name. There’s nothing revolutionary about either the cooking method or the reheating, as you’ll see in the recipe. Rinsing and toasting the rice, and reheating it, covered, in the microwave, are basically all there is to it.
Thank the lord that at my last Tex-Mex night I gave my new found make ahead rice method a try, because otherwise we would have had a disaster (or just no rice), thanks to my two hour run-in with the law. Instead, I calmly popped enchiladas into the oven and the rice into the microwave, and if my father-in-law hadn’t been so interested in my techniques, the green rice side dish would easily have passed for freshly made.
Speaking of enchiladas, remember that recipe for enchilada pie not too long ago? For the commenter who asked, this is the green rice recipe pictured in the photos in that post. And here’s an extra picture to remind you and convince you that a make ahead Tex-Mex feast is in your not-so-distant future.
Find lots more of my Tex-Mex recipes here!
No food processor?
You can chop the greens very finely by hand, but food processing really helps draw moisture from them, creating “juice” that will turn your rice an even brighter hue. Here are two options I recommend if you haven’t made the investment yet. Regardless of which price range you choose, I think you’ll find that you’ve opened yourself up to SO many new recipes just by adding this one appliance to your kitchen.
- Spendy-but-worth-it Cuisinart (I have this one in a slightly larger model)
- Highly rated budget processor
Gluten free/vegan. Microwaved rice sounds like something you’d eat in a college dorm room at 2 AM, but thanks to this make ahead method, it’s fluffy, flavorful, and perfect for your next big fiesta. The rice in the pictures uses kale as the green of choice, but spinach or chard are great and offer a milder, less grassy flavor.
- 2 1/2 T vegetable or canola oil (or butter, if you don’t need it to be vegan)
- 1 bunch (about 8) scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 C brown basmati rice, rinsed
- 3 C vegetable stock (or water)
- 3 packed cups chopped, uncooked greens (baby spinach, kale or chard leaves)
- 1 C moderately packed cilantro leaves
- Juice of 2 limes (divided use)
- Heat oil or butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat for a few minutes. Add scallions and a pinch of salt and cook until softened but not browned. Add jalapeno and garlic and cook for another minute. Add rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until very lightly browned and nutty smelling.
- Add stock or water, stir, increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low (it should simmer), and cook, undisturbed, about 15 minutes, until water is completely absorbed. While the rice cooks, food process the greens, cilantro, a generous pinch of salt, a tablespoon of water, and the juice of 1 lime if using kale. Scrape down sides of food processor once or twice while processing, and if the mixture isn’t coming together, add another tablespoon of water.
- Once all the water is absorbed into the rice, remove from heat, drape a clean dish towel over the pot, cover it with the lid, and let stand (to steam) for 10 minutes. Remove lid, add greens mixture and cilantro, and use a fork to fluff and incorporate the greens completely. Add more salt to taste (start with 1 teaspoon). If serving immediately, stir in juice of the remaining lime. To make ahead, place rice in a microwave safe mixing bowl (preferably glass) and cool to room temperature without adding lime juice. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to two days.
- To reheat, bring rice, in the covered bowl, to room temperature for 30 minutes, if time permits. Microwave, covered (don’t vent the plastic wrap), until hot, beginning to check at 6 minutes. The rice may need 12 to 14 minutes to heat. Uncover carefully to avoid hot steam, add juice of one lime and more salt if needed, and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl since the dish will be hot.
The greens called for is equivalent to about 4 large stems of kale.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
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