At the 2017 Texas Book Festival, I had the privilege of interviewing TV new anchor turned author Olga Campos Benz about her debut novel It’s News to Me. In this fast-paced book, Olga takes us from the newsroom, to on-the-scene reporting, to the humble Houston neighborhoods of her childhood. These neighborhoods are filled with kids playing in the streets, mothers and grandmothers in doorways with dishtowels in their hands, and scrumptious smells coming from every kitchen. During our Q&A, I told Olga that I typically cook a meal from the books I review and asked her if there was a recipe in particular that she would like to share. In keeping with the feel of the book, she offered her grandmother’s Spanish rice recipe, stating that this would be one of the smells coming from these humble kitchens. She has fond memories attached to it, and it is my pleasure to share this recipe with you!
Easily cooked up on the stove-top, this Spanish rice can be tailored to your personal spice preference. It’s a tasty side dish with a kick.
Mi Abuelita's Spanish Rice
An easy and tasty stove-top dinner, straight from your abuelita's cocina.
Recipe from Olga Campos Benz, author of It’s News To Me
– 1 cup uncooked white rice
– 2-3 T cooking or olive oil
– 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
– 1/4 cup diced jalapeño (optional for an extra “kick”)
– one 10 oz can of Rotel (use only 1/4th of the liquid)
– 1 t cumin
– salt and pepper to taste
– 1 cup cold water or chicken broth (or enough to cover rice mixture)
– 4 thin slices of red or green bell pepper
- Heat cooking oil in a 10-inch frying pan over a medium flame.
- When oil is almost hot, begin adding uncooked rice, covering the bottom of the pan in a thin layer.
- Use a spatula to turn rice so that it browns evenly. This will take 3-5 minutes.
- Add diced onion and jalapeño. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add Rotel with 1/4th of the liquid.
- Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.
- Cover rice mixture with cold water or broth and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and lay slices of bell pepper on top.
- Cover and continue cooking on low/simmer for 15 minutes.
- Serve with a serrano margarita and enjoy!
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