Tag Archives: brown rice

Eggplant Tomato Rice Pastelón / Arroz Relleno

5 Mar

I have been meaning to make a recipe for a Rice Pastelón for quite some time… and then the other day, my mom and Mili surprised me with the news they’re making a rice pastelón and they want me to document it for the blog. Sweet!!!

When I was growing up, the mom of a very, very good friend of mine loved to cook rice pastelones, or Arroz Relleno as she would call it. At the time it was rice on the bottom, stewed chicken in the middle and rice on the top, covered of course with cheese. I have debated how I would adapt Lolita’s recipe to make it vegetarian and as reminiscent of that original arroz relleno as possible… that’s where I stayed in the idea/concept stage.

But Mili and Mami did one better… Picture this – imagine layers of rice with layers of eggplant and tomato and cheese in between. Genius, right?? Genius and DELICIOUS… you will make a large mold of this because you WANT to have leftovers. I guarantee it…


3 cups of cooked brown rice
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped large
½ cup of strained tomatoes or tomato sauce or marinara sauce
2 cups of shredded cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Garlic and Herb Seasoning
1 vegetable bouillon cube

First, you need to cook all the components…

  1. Cook your rice the usual way you know how to cook brown rice. I make it in a rice cooker seasoning it with a little bit of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and a vegetable bouillon cube. I try to smash the cube and mix it in water before turning it on so the water is flavored evenly. After the rice is made, set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season the tomato slices with salt and garlic/herb seasoning mixture. Place slices side by side in a baking dish or tray. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the tomatoes. Roast in a 400F oven for about 25-20 minutes. The idea is to concentrate the flavors of the tomato. Take out of the oven and set aside.
  3. Also, season the eggplant slices with the same salt and garlic/herbs mixture. Place slices side by side in a baking dish or tray. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the eggplant slices. Roast in the same oven where the tomatoes are at 400F for about 25-20 minutes too. Take out of the oven and set aside.
  4. And while the tomatoes and eggplants are cooking and rice is finishing, sauté the onions in a large skillet. Add a little bit of olive oil to the pan over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. The idea is to soften them by cooking them over medium heat for about 10 minutes, without browning them too much. Set aside.
  5. Take the strained tomatoes and season them with salt, pepper and garlic and herbs. Add a little drizzle of olive oil to add extra flavor. Set aside. If using marinara sauce, you don’t need to season it then.

Now that everything is basically cooked, we assemble the pastelón as if it were a lasagna…

  1. Using a 9 x 13 baking dish, place 1/3 of the rice at the bottom of the pan. Flatten as much as possible.
  2. Add a drizzle of the strained tomato sauce over the rice.
  3. Add a layer of eggplants and tomatoes using half of the quantity you have available, trying to cover the layer of rice.
  4. Add some onions on top of eggplant/tomato layer.
  5. Add a layer of shredded cheese over the onions.
  6. Repeat with a second layer of rice. Drizzle some tomato sauce. Another layer of eggplant/tomato. Another layer of onions. Another layer of cheese.
  7. Finish with a last layer of rice. Add any remaining ingredients you might still have. Don’t let anything go to waste. And top with plenty of shredded cheese.
  8. Bake in the oven covered for 20-25 minutes in a 350F oven for all the flavors to combine. Uncover for the last 10 minutes of cooking to brown the cheese on top.

Just like with lasagna, there are several steps to this pastelón, but none of them are particularly difficult. After it’s assembled all you need to do is bake to melt the cheeses inside and on top. A nice salad on the side and dinner is ready!!!

Broccoli Rice Burrito

15 Oct

I am telling you… broccoli is everywhere and cheap.  So I need to cook off all this broccoli before it goes bad on me.

As the official caterer to my mom and aunt while my grandma was in the hospital, I decided to make something they would both enjoy, knowing how picky and particular my aunt is about vegetarian food.  She says she likes it… but then she has certain rules like she only eats avocados with rice…  go figure!!!

These burritos are super easy to make… their portable and can be eaten warm or at room temperature.  But warm are better in my opinion.  Perfect for a picnic, brown-bag lunch and even to bring to someone in the hospital…



½ broccoli head, florets only
½ cup cooked whole grain rice
2 ounces of cream cheese
1/3 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup of toasted walnuts
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves
8 slices of tomato
4 tbs of Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 whole grain flour tortillas or flatbreads


  1. In a medium covered skillet with about ¼ cup of water, add the cooked rice and the broccoli florets.  Cover the skillet and over medium heat that bit of water will steam both the rice and the broccoli.   After about 10 minutes, just turn off the stove and the rice and broccoli will be done.
  2. Drain any excess water, but there usually isn’t any every time I make it this way.   In that same skillet add a drizzle of olive oil, the cream cheese, parmesan, walnuts.  Season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
  3. You can warm up the tortillas or the flatbreads if you’d like… I do it on the oven or in a skillet, depending on which ones I’ll use.  Sometimes, the flatbreads are just perfect as is.
  4. Place about ¼ cup of rice on each tortilla/flatbread.  Spread 1tbs of tomatillo salsa over it.  Top with the baby spinach and tomato slices.  Roll up the tortilla/flatbread and wrap in parchment paper before you put any aluminum foil over it.   This way you’ll be able to stick them in the oven to warm up and they’ll stay warm for a while.


 Both my mom and aunt loved these burritos…  My mom had hers with a slice of avocado on the side, as she is in my camp that we will eat an avocado any time, any place without any restrictions whatsoever.  But you can certainly add the avocado inside the burrito if you’d like.

Hope you like them too…

Arroz Kristina

26 Aug

My friends from French class and I used to meet at Chez Kristina every Tuesday to practice our French grammar and practice our vocabulary and speaking fluidity.  Since last Summer we took an indefinite break from our weekly get-togethers and I truly miss them. 

Kristina was gracious enough to open up the doors to her house each week and also usually made us dinner.  Many times we offered to help and these reunions were the reason or excuse for many recipes shared here – Mushroom Goat Cheese spread, Cranberry Trifle, “Shrimp” Creole, and the Pita Pizzas made with Spinach and Tomato Sauce.  But many times, Kristina surprised us with a creation all her own. 

One of these creations was what I lovingly call Arroz Kristina – a rice Kristina made in the oven so little tending in necessary.  The flavor is spectacular and it’s great to make for yourself or for company, just like Kristina made it for us.   I tried a few times before this recipe with little success.  It was mostly my fault for screwing up the liquid measurements to accommodate for whole-grain rice.  But recently I discovered Texmati rice, whole grain basmati-style rice apparently grown in Texas that cooks almost exactly was white long-grain rice – similar in texture, liquids to use, time to cook.  This rice is FAST!!!

After discovering Texmati rice and having a pint of mushrooms in my fridge about to spoil, I decided to give Arroz Kristina another serious try…  and the results were as good as the original.


¾ cup of Texmati whole-grain brown rice
1 pint button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
½ red onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs ume plum vinegar
½ cup frozen spinach or  2 cups fresh baby spinach
¼ cup walnuts, chopped – you can use any nut you wish…  I’ve used pecans also
1 cup water or vegetable broth
About 2 tbs olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
  2. In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, pour about 1 tbs of olive oil and sauté the diced onions and peppers.    After a few minutes, add the garlic cloves.  Stir to combine.   Add the mushrooms and stir so the olive oil in the pan coats them and so the garlic doesn’t stay all together in the bottom to potentially burn.
  3. After a few minutes of cooking and the mushrooms browning a bit, add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.    Cook for a few minutes for the mushrooms to absorb the flavors and cook completely.  After a few minutes, set aside to cool a bit.
  4. In a glass casserole dish, add the rice, frozen spinach (no need to defrost at all) or chopped fresh baby spinach leaves, walnuts or pecans, cooked mushroom mixture and water or vegetable broth.  Mix together to blend and season with a bit of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.  Be careful here and try to avoid over salting… remember you seasoned the mushrooms so keep that in mind.   Cover with foil paper.
  5. Place in oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  At about the 1 hour mark, check the rice and fluff and move a bit if necessary.  Keep covered and leave in oven the additional 15 minutes.
  6. After time has elapsed, uncover, add the cheese, cover again and turn off oven.  Let the cheese melt with the residual heat in the oven.


The color of the dish might be a monotone brown, but the flavors are really good.    You could also use fresh spinach and the color would be greener…  but using frozen spinach is just as good and super easy to have always at hand in the freezer.

I want to thank Kristina for always opening up the doors to her house for our French extra-curricular rendez-vous.  I am extremely grateful for her hospitality, but most of all for her friendship.  Hope that we can retake these weekly meetings, if not in her house, possibly in mine.  And possibly start sharing once again new recipes we can all share with you…

Spinach and Asparagus Casserole

20 Apr

I mentioned I am trying to eat less cheese, right?  So here is one of the recipes I have come up with to feel satisfied without adding cheese to my food.  It’s hard, like getting rid of an addiction.  But with dishes like these, it is getting easier each day…




1 tbs sofrito
½ cube of vegetable bouillon
1 shallot, finely sliced
½ green or cubanelle pepper
½ cup frozen corn
1 ½ cup cooked brown rice
½ container cream of asparagus soup
½ cup buttermilk or sour cream
10 grape tomatoes, quartered
2 cups of fresh baby spinach, washed well and spun dry
1 tbs Extra virgin Olive oil
Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper to taste
1 tbs sliced almonds


  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, pour the olive oil and add the sofrito.   After a few minutes, add the vegetable broth cube, add the shallot, pepper and corn and sauté. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice, sautéed vegetables, asparagus soup, buttermilk or sour cream, tomatoes, spinach.  Mix together well.  If the mixture is too dry, you can add extra sour cream, olive oil or even a little bit of soy milk to add some moisture.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and add the almonds on top.
  4. Bake in a 350 F degree oven for about 30-45 minutes so all the flavors meld together and the top is golden brown.

Let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.



This is a great dish to “clean out your fridge”… the ingredients I used were the little things I had left over from other dishes or little things I wanted to use up already.  So feel free to adapt this recipe to the things you want to clean out in your fridge.


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