Easily Turn a Side Into a Main

Lovely and colorful, this Southwestern Rice Pilaf side dish is a welcome change to regular rice and/or potatoes. While we didn’t consider this very spicy, it did have a kick to it. If you prefer low-spicy foods, leave out the diced jalapeño at the end.


We served ours with a Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions entrée but this dish would also make a delicious accompaniment to steak or chicken fajitas. Or, to simplify things, simply shred a rotisserie chicken or some cooked sausage, fold into the rice, and Voila, a ready-made meal!

Always a good idea to prep all ingredients prior to cooking.


  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, medium diced (1-1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium poblano, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced (1/2 cup)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt; more as needed
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken broth, preferably hoemmade
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced


  1. In a heavy-based 3-qt. saucepan with a tight lid, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, poblano, and garlic, and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and the spices are very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the rice and salt, and stir well to coat each grain with oil. Toast for a full 5 minutes, stirring regularly to keep the grains separated and to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan (the rice may turn opaque before 5 minutes is up, but keep going). Reduce the heat to low if there are any signs of scorching.
  4. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes, stir once, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and let the pilaf sit, still covered, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 Tbs. zest from the lime, and then cut the lime into wedges.
  6. Once the pilaf has rested, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Using the fork, gently fold in the cilantro, jalapeño, and lime zest. Season to taste with salt. Serve with the lime wedges for spritzing over the rice.

Recipe by Ris Lacoste from Fine Cooking


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