Tomato Red Rice with Sweet Mint Dressing

PG tested

This seasoned, tomatoey rice dish is an upscale riff on a South Carolinian specialty known as Red Rice. It's paired with grilled veggies and a bright herbaceous vinaigrette of sweet mint. The original recipe called for asparagus, but I substituted zucchini.

-- Gretchen McKay:

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, plus more leaves for garnish

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup clover honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup plus 5 tablespoons canola oil

6 plum tomatoes

8 ounces slab bacon, diced

1 small Spanish onion, finely diced

2 cups long-grain rice

1 zucchini or summer squash, sliced into rounds

Heat your grill to high for direct grilling.

Combine the mint, rice vinegar and honey in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in 1/3 cup of oil until emulsified.

Brush tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill tomatoes until charred on all sides and very soft, about 6 minutes.

Remove tomatoes from grill, halve them and remove seeds. Put tomatoes in blender and blend until smooth. Transfer to a measuring cup and add enough cold water to make 4 cups liquid.

Heat 1 tablespoon of remaining oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon is crisp and fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Add onion to pan and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in tomato mixture, bacon, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low.

Cover and cook until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

While rice is cooking, brush zucchini with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from grill, and toss with a few tablespoons of the mint dressing.

Fluff rice with fork and transfer to platter. Top with zucchini and drizzle with more dressing. Tear some mint leaves over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 to 6.

-- Adapted from "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction" by Bobby Flay (Clarkson Potter, April 2013, $35)

Gretchen McKay:, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.

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