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Achiote Red Rice Pilaf

From the Caribbean I bring you achiote. Ah-chee-o-tay, a seasoning paste and frequent companion to fish and meat down in the Mexican Yucatán peninsula. This incredible delicious achiote red rice pilaf is simply rice, onions, and carrots cooked in a broth of achiote and tomato-y V-8 juice.

Sauté of Rice for Achiote Red Rice Pilaf

Achiote red rice pilaf has that deep color that I’ve always dreamed about/aimed for in Mexican red rice. But even more than its color, this pilaf’s gentle earthy flavor hits a high mark, a level that classic red rice can’t even imagine. Praise be to the Mayan gods of the Yucatan, I’m a fervent convert. You’ll be evangelical too, after you see the orange light of achiote.

Achiote paste’s orange red comes from bright orange annatto seeds, one and the same as annatto, listed as an ingredient in orange cheddar cheese. I prefer my cheddar uncolored, thank you, but I love the punch of annatto achiote in rice!

Achiote Paste for Achiote Red Rice Pilaf

A little box of achiote paste lists annatto seeds, vinegar, garlic, salt and “flavorings.” You can make achiote from scratch with the seeds, and spices like cumin and allspice, though I have to say, I like the convenience of the purchased paste. Look for achiote paste in Mexican grocery stores or well-stocked Latin food aisles in supermarkets. Or order it online through my Amazon link.

Achiote Red Rice Pilaf

It doesn’t take much achiote to bump up red rice, two teaspoons to a cup of rice. A a small block of achiote paste lasts for a long time–I’ve had a package for more than a year and it’s still as good as when I first opened it and dressed up a side dish of onions and chile strips.

A new bar has been set. Come on over to Mexican achiote red rice pilaf. Make it soon and serve it often.

Kitchen notes:

  • I used brown rice, but Mexican cooks would definitely start with white to make classic red rice. Make achiote red rice with either.
  • Vegetable juice is an easy convenient way to add tomato flavor to rice. We keep cans of V-8 juice in the pantry for our go-to salad dressing. Knudsen Organic Very Veggie juice is an excellent option.

Let me know when you make this rice! You can leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram or Twitter with #lettycooksveggies!

When you are ready to branch out, check out these achiote-sparked vegetarian dishes from some other bloggers.

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Achiote Red Rice Pilaf
Print
Achiote Red Rice Pilaf
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown or white rice (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons achiote paste
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed , canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup diced ((¼-inch) carrots
  • 1 (8-ounce) can or bottle vegetable juice (see note)
Instructions
  1. Rinse the rice well. Place in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak 10 minutes. Rinse again. Allow the rice to drain in the strainer.
  2. Mix the achiote paste in the vegetable broth, pushing with the back of the spoon until the paste is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium flame. Add the onions and cook and stir a few minutes. Stir in the rinsed rice and diced carrot. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, until the rice is coated with oil and turns light golden brown.
  4. Add the achiote broth and the vegetable juice.
  5. Bring the rice to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to the lowest setting possible. Cook without stirring, 35 to 45 minutes. (To check if the liquid has been absorbed or not, tilt the pan to the side.) Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • I used brown rice, but Mexican cooks would definitely start with white to make classic red rice. If you use white rice, reduce the vegetable broth to 1 cup.
  • Vegetable juice is an easy convenient way to add tomato flavor to rice. I keep cans of V-8 juice in the pantry for our go-to salad dressing. Knudsen Organic Very Veggie juice is an excellent option.

6 comments

  • Priscilla

    As always, your recipes inspire me but the photos are icing on the cake. Reply · 23 February, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Priscilla! Reply · 23 February, 2015

  • I have got to get me some of that achiote paste. This rice is beautiful and I bet it spicy and extremely tasty!! Reply · 26 February, 2015

    • Letty

      MJ –annatto seeds have a nondescript fruity flavor with bright color for sure. A fingertip of achiote is not incendiary at all– let me know how you use it. Reply · 26 February, 2015

  • […] served these enchiladas with achiote red rice pilaf for color contrast. (Have you ever noticed how a lot of Mexican food incorporates the colors of […] Reply · 7 March, 2015

  • […] melamine plate remains. See it below the recipe. Like Carmen, my tortas de espinaca come with Mexican rice and pot beans, frijoles de […] Reply · 13 March, 2015

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