Arroz de tomate, a classic Portuguese rice side dish
You can probably find this side dish at most Portuguese restaurants you visit. Arroz de tomato (tomato rice) is a staple of Portuguese cuisine, and it’s a dish Liz and I enjoyed growing up in our respective homes.
This dish is often served with fried fish and grill meats. It’s definitely a perfect Portuguese comfort food, and can be the ultimate sidekick of almost any main course.
This is likely a familiar rice dish for many cultures and cuisines; with versions of tomato rice found all around the world. It’s beautiful to see how different cultures are so similar and connected through food. It makes the world feel smaller to me… in a good way. Recently I made a jollof farro which was my diabetic-friendly version of a West African tomato rice dish. Different than the Portuguese version, yet comfortably familiar and also so delicious.
Easy to make
Tomato rice is easy to make. Basically, sauté onions and garlic, add the wine, cook for a little bit, add all the remaining ingredients, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Easy, right?
Here are a few tips to consider when making this rice:
- While the rice is cooking, stir the rice a couple of times during the cook. Even though the rice is cooking on low, you still run the risk of the rice sticking to the pot. The occasional stir will help keep this from happening.
- The end result is very much a personal preference. Some folks like it a little dryer and fluffy while other like it a little wetter. Once the rice is cooked, you can add a couple of tablespoons of water and mix if you prefer more moisture.
- If you like seeing more pieces of tomato in your rice, swap out the strained tomatoes for the same quantity of diced tomatoes instead.
- This dish is often made with a rice called ‘arroz carolino‘ which is a short-grain rice, more like arborio rice. For this recipe I changed it up a bit and used long-grain rice because I like the texture. You can use either in our recipe.
White wine for a little umph
This recipe isn’t typically done with wine… but “wine not” add a little kick? 😂 Feel free to judge me if you want. I’m now old enough that dad jokes are expected of me, and I’m perfectly comfortable making them. The “cool” train left the station a long time ago, and I wasn’t on board.
I love the little flavour kick the wine gave our dish, but feel free to substitute the wine for additional stock if you’d prefer to leave out the alcohol. If you do leave out the wine, just go from the sautéing step to adding all remaining ingredients. It’ll still taste great!
A familiar dish for me and Liz
Growing up, we both enjoyed versions of this tomato rice dish in our homes. For me personally, my memory brought me back to my mom’s “abrótea e arroz de tomate” dish. Abrótea is a type of hake fish and it partners well with this tomato rice. To this day, it’s still one of my favourite fish and rice meals ever.
Whenever we go visit my parents in Portugal, I pre-order this meal before the plane takes off from Canada. 😂 My mom knows that she has to make this meal for me while we’re there on vacation. It’s not much work for her though. She genuinely enjoys cooking up my favourite meals while we’re there, and I enjoy learning her secrets. They may not be secrets in her eyes, but to me, there’s just something amazing about how effortless she makes it all look–with no formal culinary training and few or new recipes to follow.
I feel blessed to still have my mom here to teach me. I know I have so much to learn from her, and I don’t take her gift of passing along her knowledge and experience, for granted. I’ll continue learning and maintaining a connection to my roots through food. I aspire to pass along great recipes and traditions to my kids so they can recreate this whenever they’re craving an old familiar meal and and a side of nostalgia.
Food tastes better when it’s made with heart and shared. We hope you enjoy this recipe. Sprinkle it with love and make today yummy, friends.
Portuguese tomato rice – Arroz de tomate
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium cooking onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1 can diced tomatoes 400ml or 13.5 fl oz
- 1/2 cup strained tomatoes (passata)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a medium to large pot on medium heat.
- Add the onions and garlic, and sauté for about 3 minutes or until the onions soften.
- Add the bay leaves and wine.
- Cook the wine down (reduce the wine) for about 2 more minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, and stir.
- Bring to a light boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Give the ingredients a stir every 5 minutes.
- Shut off the heat, uncover the pot, fluff using a fork, and remove the bay leaves.
- Enjoy with fried fish or grilled meats!