Continuing with my theme of Mardi Gras colors, I let today’s inspiration be green. Green is another one of the three Mardi Gras colors, representing faith. A lot of Creole people are known for their Catholic faith, but we also put our faith in loved ones to cook us good food. I have faith that I made some delicious rice!
Like many other cultures, we take our rice seriously. You can find it in almost every meal. Rice is the base for calas and jambalaya, and every stew or smothered dish becomes a complete meal with the addition of rice. While green rice isn’t a cultural staple, the ingredients that make up this dish certainly are. If we can make green gumbo, why not make green rice?
I wanted to make something that felt festive and different, but still tasted like home. One way I accomplished this was by incorporating the holy trinity: bell pepper, onion and celery. This combo is the staple for Creole food and imparts a foundational flavor that I’m very fond of when cooking. To make sure the rice was nice and green, I added spinach, parsley and collard greens. The spinach and parsley feel essential for this rice, but you can substitute the collard greens with kale, chard or another dark leafy green.
The holy trinity vegetables add texture, but I wanted additional crunch and saltiness. I decided to sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds, fried garlic, and crushed okra chips for crunch. For extra saltiness, I sprinkled a little smoked sea salt. Not necessary, but it made me feel fancy. If you want to be extra Creole with it, serve the rice with filé powder so people can dust the rice with it before serving.
Creole Green Rice
1 ½ c. long-grain white rice
2 ½ c. water or chicken stock
1 c. tightly packed spinach leaves
½ c. tightly pack parsley leaves (see notes)
½ c. tightly packed collard leaves, stems removed
2 tbsp. olive or avocado oil
⅓ c. yellow onion, finely diced
⅓ c. green bell pepper, finely diced
⅓ c. celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced (see notes)
½ tsp. salt (see notes)
1 bay leaf
Toppings: parsley, sesame, fried garlic, okra chips or flaky sea salt (optional)
For a boost of fresh herb taste, finely chop the parsley stems and sprinkle on the rice before serving.
If not topping with fried garlic, increase the amount of garlic cloves to 3-4.
If using water or low-sodium stock, I would suggest adding 1 tsp. or more of salt.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 servings
Special Equipment: Large saucepan with secure lid or dutch oven.
Rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear. Set aside.
In a blender, combine the stock, spinach, parsley and collard leaves. Puree until smooth and you can barely see leaves in the mix. Set aside.
Heat oil in a saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper and celery. Sauté until just tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, salt and bay leaf, cooking for an additional minute, or until garlic is fragrant.
Stir in the rice and cook for a minute or two to toast. Raise the heat to high, slowly pour in the green sauce, and bring to a boil. Quickly taste to adjust for salt, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and set a timer for 18 minutes. Don’t open the lid while cooking.
Turn off the heat, leave the lid on, and let the rice rest for 10 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the rice with a fork.
Serve warm with optional crunchy toppings, flaky salt or filé powder.