Friday, April 16, 2010

Simple and Tasty

You could file this recipe under “college food,” because that’s when I first started making it. A friend passed it along to me, and I’ve never found much reason to change it.

Here’s why it’s remained a favorite all these years: It tastes good. It’s easy to make. It doesn’t need a lot of ingredients; you can improvise. It’s a one-dish dinner, it makes a lot, and it’s pretty delicious even as leftovers. Hey, it’s better than your average college-cookin’ slumgullion!

Finally, it’s relatively healthy and light. It served me well in college, and it’s still something I return to when we need to eat out of the pantry and the freezer.

It’s especially good on a day like today, when the temperature’s dropped, the skies are gray, and you're too busy to cook much. It can be a “warming” dish, so to speak. And the accompaniment? Try simple butter bread.

The key ingredient is a can of Ro-Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies. Which is kind of high in sodium by itself, but when spread over the rest of the dish, it evens out.

The Ro-Tel and Rice Recipe

1–2 tbs. olive oil
2 butterfly pork chops, trimmed of fat and sliced thin as for stir-frying
1 tsp. dried crushed oregano
1 cup plain long-grain white rice
1 10-oz. can Ro-Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
1½ cups fresh cauliflower florets, in approx. 2-inch chunks
1 cup of fresh green beans, cleaned and trimmed (or a can of green beans)

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a good-fitting lid, brown pork chops in olive oil and season with the oregano. Add the rice and stir so it gets coated with the oil. Then add the whole can of Ro-Tel, plus another can and a half of water. Stir lightly to combine. Turn up the heat; when it gets close to boiling, spread the cauliflower and green beans over the top. When it comes to a boil, cover and turn heat to low. Simmer for another 20 minutes or so.

Bonus Trivia!
In the 1940s, Carl Roettele started his canned-tomato-and-chili company in Elsa, Texas. He knew that folks would be challenged by the spelling and pronunciation of his name, so he simplified the spelling to “RO*TEL.”

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