We are still getting big beautiful beefsteak tomatoes here in Georgia. We can’t resist passing on this gorgeous and easy side. Funny to say – but true – if you can boil rice you can make this flavorful, colorful and delicious side dish, inspired by bright cuisines of the Mediterranean. Tomatoes and peppers are an important part of warm weather foods, and this recipe includes both. The garlic and red onion are full of antioxidants, and although we usually use brown rice in our recipes, we are staying close to the original by using a short-grained rice called Valencia or Paella rice. The list of other items in this recipe helps balance the white rice and add extra nutrition!
One of the ingredients you may notice is the dried oregano. Why dried? For two reasons. One is because unlike many other spices whose fresh counterpart tastes the same, dried oregano has a unique flavor that we associate with tomato sauce. And the other reason is because when cooking food more than a half hour you should use dried when cooking and the fresh herb to garnish. Cooking fresh herbs too long causes them to break down and lose their flavor. Using the dried version allows you to infuse your food with the taste you want!
And not only does oregano have the taste we think of as tomato sauce, it also is packed with antioxidants. One active agent in oregano is rosmarinic acid, which is a strong antioxidant that may support immune system health. Oregano has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings, with 42 times the antioxidant punch of apples. Wow! Also, carvacol and thymol, two phytochemicals in oregano, are powerful antimicrobials. Research has shown essential oils from oregano may kill the foodborne pathogen Listeria and the superbug MRSA….making it a useful addition to hand soaps and disinfectants!
The flavors of the Med are combined in this easy to make, crowd pleasing side – easy to make and great for dinner and leftovers.
Mediterranean Red Rice
- 2 TB Olive Oil
- 2 Cups Valencia or Paella Rice (you can find this in your local grocery store)
- 1 Chopped Red Onion
- 1 Garlic Clove, minced or grated
- 4 Cups Veggie Stock
- 1 TB of Tomato Paste
- 2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tsp Sea Salt
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
In a large stockpot, brown the rice in olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and cook and stir until fragrant. Stir in the paprika, oregano, salt and pepper.
Add the stock to the rice and bring it to a simmer, cover and let cook about 20 – 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.