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This Not So Dirty Rice is a flavorful side dish that’s easy to make. Dirty rice is usually made with meat, but my version is vegetarian. I often serve this with black bean enchiladas.
Rice is such a versatile ingredient, and there are so many wonderful ways to prepare it! From luxurious risottos to fresh, hot fried rice, the possibilities are, essentially, endless. This particular recipe is a fragrant and spicy version of classic New Orleans “dirty rice,” and has a fluffy, well-defined texture similar to a pilaf: separated grains of perfectly cooked rice, studded with flavorful corn, seeded tomatoes, and satisfying black beans.
What is Dirty Rice?
Dirty rice is a flavorful Cajun rice dish. These days, it often features ground beef or sausage, but really traditional versions often call for finely chopped chicken livers! The finely chopped (or ground) meat, along with the spice and seasoning blend, are what make the rice look “dirty”—and delicious!
My version has all the spice and flavor, but is a meatless version that utilizes sweet corn, tangy tomatoes, and savory black beans to get that hearty taste and texture. Although I eat meat, my husband is a life long vegetarian so having a vegetarian version of Dirty Rice just made things easier!
Tips for Success
- Saute It: The initial step of sauteing the rice, before you add the broth, is a major factor in keeping the rice grains from sticking together. It also gives a wonderful flavor boost!
- Don’t Stir: Once the rice is covered and simmering, avoid removing the lid, and definitely don’t stir! Stirring creates a starchy texture, which is great for risotto, but not what you need for dirty rice.
- Put a Lid On It: If you’re not going to serve this dish right away, you can keep the lid on it and let it rest for up to 15 minutes before serving. Some cooks think that the texture and flavor of rice benefits from a rest like this!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- You can refrigerate this dish for up to 24 hours (experts say that the consistency of rice makes it extra vulnerable to spoilage). Just store the cooled leftovers in airtight containers and place in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
- To freeze, transfer the cooled leftovers to freezer bags, pressing out as much air as possible before sealing. Store flat in the freezer. Frozen rice keeps for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, place the rice in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash of water, and cook until just heated through, stirring gently but constantly, to keep the rice from scorching or sticking.
Vegetarian Dirty Rice Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ⅓ cups uncooked long grain white rice
- 2 ¾ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped fine
- 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels
- 14 oz black beans, drained and rinsed (1 can)
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped red onion. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the chili powder, chili flakes, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. Saute, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the rice and mix in well. Add the broth and stir.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer the rice for 25 minutes.
- When the rice is cooked stir in the tomatoes, corn and black beans. Stir in the lime juice.
- Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. When the mixture is heated through, spoon into bowls and top with chopped cilantro if using. Serve immediately.