It was Friday. I do my grocery pickup on Fridays. During school, I schedule my pickup for Friday after school so I can leave school, get groceries, and go home. Since we’ve been going through this pandemic – and have been out of school since March, I have been doing my pickup on Friday morning. I mainly do my pickup on Fridays because I like being able to spend a big chunk of my weekend cooking and meal prepping for the rest of the week.

This past Friday, I had done pickup as usual. When it came time to cook dinner for Michael and myself, I just wasn’t in the mood to cook anything spectacular. So I decided to make something just from ingredients that had been in my pantry for a while.

I chose rice as the base of my dish. Rice really is one of the most versatile pantry ingredients EVER. Seriously. You can make so much with ordinary, long-grain rice.

What I ended up with was delicious! Tomato-y and creamy and spicy. Michael really liked it – and I used cayenne in it, so he didn’t have to add any! (In case you’re new here, Michael adds cayenne to basically everything.)

It’s also a beautiful dish! Really visually stunning. And I didn’t have to jump through any hoops to make it that way! The colors are just naturally gorgeous!

And the cost? Even better. Chances are, you have every single one of these ingredients in your pantry right this minute. If that’s the case, it won’t cost you a thing. But let’s just say that your cupboard is literally bare. Assuming you have olive oil on the counter and cayenne in the spice cabinet, this entire dish costs $3.90 cents (Walmart prices). We (crazy vegan humans) ate this as a main dish, so we each had one-fourth of the dish. Are you ready for this? 98 cents per serving! If you’re using this as a side dish, it will be even less per serving. And that includes the sliced green onion garnish!

Are you ready for this super-easy, super-economical, super-tasty dish? Here goes…

Spicy Tomato Rice

  • Olive oil
  • 1 10-oz. bag of frozen seasoning blend
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 15-oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 2 cans of vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 12-oz bag of frozen green peas

In a large stockpot, drizzle olive oil and add seasoning blend. Stir over high heat until vegetables are tender. Add rice and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, stock, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add peas and stir. Turn off heat and leave covered for 5-10 minutes. Stir to fluff. Taste for salt and add more if needed.

Well Duh #1: If you don’t have (or can’t find) (or don’t want to use) the frozen seasoning blend, it is basically, 1 medium onion, half of a red bell pepper, and half of a green bell pepper, all diced. Even cheaper!!

Well Duh #2: Yes, you totally add the peas frozen. They don’t need to cook. They only need to thaw. And the heat of the just-cooked rice will do that easily.

Well Duh #3: Don’t have (or don’t like) cayenne? You can add a half of a jalapeno, diced super-finely.

Well Duh #4: If you’re not eating plant-based, you may have chicken stock in your pantry. You can totally use that instead of the vegetable stock!

Well Duh #5: In case you’re new to cooking and have never seen a recipe that used “cans” as a measurement, all that means is that I used the empty tomato sauce can to measure my stock. It’s super convenient and doesn’t dirty up a measuring cup!

Well Duh #6: I’ve had several readers and friends ask what made us decide to become plant-based eaters. We totally did it for Michael’s health, but here is the book that was partially the reason why we chose plant-based over other eating plans. If you’re even slightly interested, you should read this book! It’s called Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health.

So, yes, this was well-received by my hubby. He loved the spice level of the dish, but he isn’t a huge fan of green peas. That was his least-favorite part, but he still really liked it.

I belong to several vegan groups on Facebook – all of which have members from around the globe. I posted this dish on those pages and had several members comment, “That’s jollof – my favorite!” I looked it up. Jollof is an African rice dish. It differs from region to region. Some areas add lamb to it. Most of them use fresh peppers (I don’t think they have Walmart in Africa, but I could be wrong!) Anyway, it was cool to see that some simple, thrown-together dish that I came up with, is actually a very common dish in Africa!

I’m INTERNATIONAL! Who knew?

Check your pantry. Make this dish. Save a little money. Enjoy a great meal!

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