Every Thanksgiving, I cook up a big pile of veggie chicken from the Asian market, which we always have with mashed potatoes, gravy, and various other sides. It’s not very creative, but my family likes it. I like it for the leftovers I can put into the freezer for coming weeks. I’ll try new things every year, but there are two dishes I always make, Tofu Pot Pie with the gravy, and enchiladas with the veggie chicken and Roasted Vegetable Salsa. Until now, I’ve always served the enchiladas with Yellow Rice with Saffron or some spiced black beans and diced tomato. This time I wanted something different. Cilantro lime rice sounded good.
Everyone in the U.S. is surely familiar with cilantro lime rice from Chipotle and there are dozens of copycat recipes out there. I noticed a lot of people were complaining that their rice wasn’t flavorful enough. I saw that a few other cooks were putting sugar in theirs in addition to the lime juice and cilantro, which seemed weird to me. Then it dawned on me that they were probably trying to duplicate the flavor of lime zest, which is sweeter that the juice. I added zest to mine; this gave my rice an extra burst of lime flavor. I think lime zest is the missing secret ingredient. I also noticed a couple of people adding green onions to the rice. I keep a pot of chives growing on my patio so I added some of them instead of green onions. They’re a nice touch, but not absolutely necessary. Do take the extra minute to zest your lime, though. You’ll be glad you did.
This version only makes a couple of servings, but it's easy to double.
- 1/4 teaspoon lime zest, packed
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, from about 1/2 a lime
- Water (see directions for amount)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup basmati or long grain rice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced
- 1 to 2 teaspoons minced chives (optional)
Add the zest to a 2-quart saucepan. Squeeze the lime juice into a measuring cup. If you are cooking basmati rice, add enough water to make 1-1/3 cups. If you are cooking long grain rice, add enough water to make 1-1/2 cups. Add the olive oil, salt, and rice to the pan and stir well. Add the water and lime juice and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes.
Add the cilantro and chives to the rice. Very gently, so as not to break up the grains of rice, use a fork to fluff the rice and stir in the herbs.