Buen Provecho is a 1995 cookbook compiled by the Hispanic employee group at AT&T, New Jersey chapter. It is an absolute treasure trove of recipes, submitted by employees with every-which-flavor of Latin American heritage you can think of. Individual recipes are identified by cuisine, and there is a helpful glossary to define terms and ingredients that aren’t commonplace in American kitchens. The introductory page carries the following sub-heading:
Buen Provecho: 500 Years of Hispanic Cuisine. A culinary voyage into the kitchens of Hispanics around the world; the old and new favorites of a diverse and tightly knit community.
As you might surmise from the title, Latino Yuppie Baked Green Rice counts as one of the “new favorites”. The recipe notes give “Colombia” as the country of origin, but I suspect this is the heritage of the author rather than the recipe. And, yes, Colombian cuisine is complicated and diverse and this might be a variant of some authentic arroz verde from a nascent yuppie community in Bogotá, but frankly who cares? As best as I can tell this is a variant of a green rice casserole, which I can find in community cookbooks dating back to the late 70s. There’s nothing in the ingredient list that suggests Latin American cuisine, but it pairs brilliantly (and beautifully) with any number of traditional dishes.
The recipe is easy to prepare and a great way to use up leftover rice. The original recipe seems to assume garden variety American long-grain rice, but I’ve used both leftover jasmine and basmati rice when preparing this. The key to getting the flavor and feel are the fresh vegetables: spinach and parsley plus the usual aromatics, pureed into a smooth paste with eggs and a little bit of olive oil. Mix the vegetable puree with rice and Parmesan cheese and bake until the cheese is brown. Don’t be put off by the Parmesan cheese – there’s enough to add some salty richness and accentuate the vegetables, but not enough to turn this into some sort of cheesy spinach casserole. In a million years you might consider substituting cotija but that’s not really what this dish is all about.
In terms of pairing this is an extremely versatile dish. The fresh vegetables carry the flavor profile and you can substitute it for nearly any meal which would call for white rice, except perhaps for Asian cuisine. It works well as part of a traditional rice and beans pairing for tacos or enchiladas or an endless variety of Latin American dishes, but it also works well with a freshly grilled pork chop or salmon filet. It’s also a good choice for rich, stewed meats, serving to sop up every last bit of delicious sauce. You simply can’t go wrong.
- Preheat oven to 350º F
- In a blender, mix together all ingredients except for rice and parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth, like a pesto sauce.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix with cooked rice and parmesan cheese until uniformly blended. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 casserole dish. Sprinkle a little bit more cheese over the top, if desired, and bake for 30 minutes until warm and firm.