Back in July, when the heat in New York could melt you, I walked around the city one afternoon thinking of green rice. In my overheated brain, it became a mantra: green rice will save me, green rice will keep me cool. Ice cream and lemonade and cold salmon with yogurt sauce couldn't tell me nothing—only slick, herby carbs would stop me from sweating through my clothes.
Later, when I got home and finally made some green rice for lunch, I did feel cooler, though it was probably at least partially a trick of the mind. The rice I made was warm, but it had flavors I associate with being poolside: lime juice, cilantro, avocado—all the things I like to pile on a taco and chase with a Pacifico.
I can eat an entire bowl of plain, seasoned rice—and that is essentially all green rice is, rice that has been seasoned with herbs and chiles and oil and salt—and be completely satisfied (and, by the way, feel no guilt). But green rice is so seasoned that I think it's a shame not to top it with something. That something can be simple—a salt-and-peppered piece of fish, a couple cubes of paneer, some roasted vegetables—because the hyperflavored rice does the heavy lifting.
In July, I topped my rice with an egg. But right now, I'm piling on tomatoes, too. In fact, I can't think of anything I'd rather do with peak tomatoes. Oh, I could shower them with herbs and squeeze a little citrus over them and put them on a piece of toast with some avocado, I guess. But green rice does all of that for me—plus I get to eat rice!
I keep referring to green rice as a powerhouse of flavor, but it's not necessarily always that way. It's all in how you make it. I make a punchy green sauce (I guess I'm obsessed with green sauces?) and toss my rice in it when it's just cooked and still a little warm (though room temp works, too). But a traditional Mexican technique involves a puree of chiles, herbs, and water or broth; the rice is cooked in the puree, and the result is more subtle, less green—but just as crave-able and, if you're me, cooling.
Not that we need to be cooled so badly anymore. I mean, September is still summer, and the Earth is only getting warmer, so it isn't necessarily a bad idea to have some recipes on hand that can trick the brain into believing the body is more comfortable. But I admit the scalp-scorching days of July are behind us. That's fine. Green rice is a viable option no matter what the season is. Top it with mushrooms and roast chicken in the fall. Pour black beans over it in winter. Use it to stuff your burritos, or put it in the bottom of a bowl of soup. The weather's going to take us to all kinds of crazy places; green rice will be there when we arrive.David Tamarkin
Originally Appeared on Epicurious