Mexican Red Rice
A different take on rice for a different mood. A few spices and tomatoes conspire to bump up the flavor and color of the side dish.
2 cups long-grain white rice, such as Texmati, basmati, or jasmine
1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium), cored, halved, and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped white onion
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 whole clove
1 whole allspice berry
1/2 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup mild olive oil or vegetable oil
Rinse the rice thoroughly in a large strainer until the water runs clear. Drain well, at least 15 minutes.
Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, clove, allspice, bay leaf, and salt in the blender jar along with 1 cup of water and blend to a smooth puree, at least 2 minutes. Add enough water (about 1/2 cup more) to the blender jar so the mixture measures 4 1/2 cups. Strain the tomato mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
Heat the oil in a wide 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then add the rice and cook, stirring frequently (the rice will clump at first), until the grains of rice separate and begin to turn pale golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato mixture and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil the rice, uncovered, until the surface of the rice is visible, about 5 minutes. Cover the pot and turn the heat to very low. Cook the rice gently for 10 minutes more. Turn the heat off. Drape a clean dry cloth over the pot, then cover with the lid and let the rice stand to finish cooking 10 to 15 minutes.
The rice keeps in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat it in a 350°F oven with a sprinkle of additional water, covered, until heated through, about 30 minutes.