Almost Arroz a a Cubana

It sounds so exotic doesn’t it…Cuban Style Rice? Well, sorry to disappoint, but it’s not at all! Arroz a la Cubana is a store cupboard, go-to dish. Often served in restaurants as part of the mid day “menu” and eaten by impoverished students all over Spain. What is it? Simply rice with tomato sauce and a fried egg on top.

As with many simple dishes, they can be comforting and filling. And they can be dressed up too, if this is what takes your fancy.

I almost always have some home made tomato sauce in the fridge. In the summer our little huerto provides me with tomatoes to see me through most of the year, and even though we missed the end of the summer in Spain, I managed to freeze plenty of tomatoes which will keep me going for a month or so until this season’s vegetables are available to me.

Solomillo con arroz a la cubana (5)

There may be a different way of making Arroz a la Cubana, this is my method which gives you a slightly soupy textured rice, almost like a risotto.

Ingredients (for two as a main course)

  • 1 cup Spanish paella rice
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce (sofrito) Recipe below
  • Salt and pepper

Start by bringing the rice and (salted) water to the boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook slowly until most of the water has evaporated. Now add the tomato sauce, check for seasoning and continue to cook for a few minutes more until the rice is almost done. Turn off the heat, cover the rice and leave to stand for 5 minutes, by which time the rice will be done.

Typically served with a fried egg on top, a great veggie meal, I added some cooked green beans and topped the rice with griddled loin of pork. Delicious with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Chica’s Quick Tomato Sauce

  • About 5 fat cloves of crushed garlic
  • 500g of crushed tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of tomato purée
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil or oregano (stalks and leaves, not chopped)
  • A glass of red wine
  • About half a teaspoon of sugar

Put the garlic into a few tablespoons of olive oil (do not heat the oil first, we don’t want the garlic to brown) and cook slowly for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Now add the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the wine and the herbs. Season lightly and simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened. Check for seasoning and if it is a little sharp, add the sugar (this is not always necessary). Cook for a few minutes more, remove the herbs and you’re done.

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37 thoughts on “Almost Arroz a a Cubana

  1. Perfect and deliciously simple, love the garlic, tomato and oregano flavor mix…I was wondering, what is the best replacement for paella rice, is it better to use arborrio rice or would basmati work just fine?

  2. This is my kind of fast food, Tanya. Your tomato sauce sounds tasty and would really make a good dish of rice. Reminds me of a dish Mom made for us at lunch sometimes. As a boy, I thought it weird. In my mind, pasta was meant for sugo and rice was meant for risotto. Of course, that didn’t stop me from cleaning my plate every time. Mon never topped the dish off with an egg, though. That sounds really good!

  3. Well, I don’t think ‘impoverished students’ ever had the chance to eat such home-made tomato sauce or the ‘luxury’ of the grilled pork atop 🙂 ! Fast and moreish!!

  4. There is something wonderful about simple filling basics, you are absolutely right. I’ve made something like this but with cheese (good mature cheddar) graded in and sometime meat-ish on top. The kids like it and its perfect.

    Thank you for the tom sauce recipe …. its always good to try a slightly different version to keep on ones toes hey!

  5. It sounds like our “oven rice” that is rice that you bake when you are too lazy even to bother stirring something on top of the stove (in other words…it is pretty much “everyday rice” 😉 ). I like to jazz ours up a bit by making it lien to the Asian side by using coconut cream and lemon grass and kefir lime leaves to flavour it but there is always the ubiquitous tomato hanging about in the rear bringing up the base notes. I am going to have to try Cuba for a change…I might not smoke their havanas but their rice makes me ariba! 😉

    1. Your oven rice sounds wonderful. Don’t often find lemon grass etc here so I will have to remember to make this next time we’re in England….have fun if you “go” to Cuba!

  6. I grew up eating this dish and always associated it with weekend afternoons when my mom was too busy running errands to fix anything that took longer than 5 minutes. We also had it for weeknight dinners when my mom needed a 3rd or 4th course that didn’t take longer than 5 minutes. (See a pattern?) It was our version of spaghetti with tomato sauce, the no-brainer that’s also pure comfort food.

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