Monday, August 17, 2009

Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach, and Queso Fresco

It's so secret that I love Mexican food and flavors. About a year ago I was introduced to the cooking of Rick Bayless, and ever since, he has been popping up everywhere! Or maybe I am just noticing him more. Either way, I love everything he does. I even had the pleasure of dining at one of his restaurants in Chicago, Frontera Grill, when I was there on business last month. If you go to Chicago, you must eat at this restaurant.

My friend recently let me borrow her Rick Bayless cookbook, Mexico One Plate at a Time. The other day I sat with it for about an hour learning about Mexican cooking and falling in love with the recipes. I bookmarked many of them to make over the next few months! On Saturday I chose a side dish as my first recipe - rice with roasted poblanos, spinach, and feta cheese - and served it with another Rick Bayless dish of chicken baked in cream and salsa. The only change I made was a suggestion in the recipe - I used queso fresco instead of feta.


  • 3 medium fresh poblano chiles
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water (I used broth)
  • Salt (I didn't use any)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1.5 cups white rice, preferably medium grain
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cups loosely packed sliced stemmed spinach leaves
  • 1.5 cups coarsely crumbled Mexican queso fresco (or firm goat cheese or feta)

Directions (in my own words; see the original recipe in the book for Rick's commentary)

  • Roast the chiles over a gas flame. Once all the skin is charred, approximately 5 minutes, transfer to a bowl and cover for 10 minutes. Remove the skins, seeds, and stems, rinse, and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.
  • Heat broth in a small saucepan. I did not add any salt as the recipe noted.
  • In a separate 3-qt saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. At onions and raw rice; stir regularly for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds. Make sure the grains of rice do not brown.
  • Add the warm liquid and chopped roasted chiles. Stir, cover, and cook on the lowest heat setting for about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and add spinach, distributing it over the rice, but not stirring. Cover the pot and let is stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, test the rice. Mine was done and all of the liquid was absorbed, but if this isn't the case for you, Rick suggests sprinkling 2 tbsp water on top of the rice and returning it to low heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover the rice, sprinkle with cheese, and fluff everything together with a fork.

After trying and loving this recipe, I definitely need to cook my way through this cookbook! I loved the method of frying the rice before adding the liquid, much like making risotto. The roasted poblanos added just a touch of heat, and the queso added a creamy saltiness. If you make this recipe, definitely try to find queso fresco instead of using goat or feta cheese. I found it at Wegman's, and have also purchased it at Mexican market in the past.

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  1. This looks like my kind of rice. Great favor combination!

  2. This looks really awesome. Yum. I love Rick Bayless. I have Mexican Everyday and I want to make everything in it!