March 20, 2023

Diamond Dishes: Speedy Spanish rice is easy, versatile and delicious

This week we have a very popular one-pot meal seasoned with a little bit of versatility. This family-friendly dinner is an extremely inexpensive yet soul-satisfying meal.

It comes together fast, making it perfect for busy weeknight dinners. And one skillet? Yes, please and thank you.

The real beauty of the recipe is you can substitute any kind of protein for the hamburger I used. You could use ground or shredded turkey, pork, chicken, or go meatless with beans or meat-free crumbles.

This makes it a perfect recipe to have on repeat, knowing you can make it with whatever is on sale this week.

Using brown rice in this recipe boosts nutrition and fiber. But because brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook, this speedy recipe calls for precooked rice.

Considering it takes the same 45 minutes to make four cups of brown rice or 12 cups of brown rice, I recommend making a big pot o’rice then dividing and freezing it into meal-ready portions. Anything that helps get a healthy meal on the table quickly is a good thing.

If you prefer white rice or don’t happen to have cooked rice on hand, I’ve included the white rice quick fix.

This popular dish has many variations. I believe every family has their own “perfect and only” way to prepare Spanish rice.

Here’s a list of items you could add, and no one would be mad at you: green or black olives; corn; sour cream; green chilis; pinto, black or red kidney beans.

And more cheese. We always need more cheese, please.

What’s the difference between Spanish rice and Mexican rice? Spanish rice gets its yellow color from saffron, which is ridiculously expensive.

Mexican rice, meanwhile, takes on a unique reddish orange color by adding cumin and chili powder.

No matter how you make it, you’ll love this simply comforting delish Spanish dish.

Speedy Spanish Rice

Servings: 4


1 pound (85/15) ground beef

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (16 ounce) bag frozen pepper and onion blend, thawed

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups cooked brown rice (see note below)

1 cup cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, shredded

Chopped green onions and/or cilantro, optional


In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook hamburger, breaking it into crumbles, until beef is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain the excess fat and liquid from the pan. You don’t have to drain it all; a little liquid is good.

Next, add the onion and pepper blend and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add rice; heat through, stirring occasionally.

Let this simmer for at least 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Before serving, sprinkle cheese on top and cover with a lid for a minute to melt the cheese. Garnish with green onions and cilantro, if desired. And trust me, you desire. Serving suggestions: All you need is a big salad and call it done.

Note: If you don’t have pre-cooked rice, just add 1 cup of uncooked white rice — not brown, it takes too long — and 2 cups chicken broth when you add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Continue as written above.

Patti Diamond

Patti Diamond

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the penny-pinching, party-planning, recipe developer and content creator of “Divas On A Dime — Where Frugal Meets Fabulous!” at © 2023 King Features Synd., Inc.