Living in a college dorm comes with lots of culinary challenges. Sometimes, people bring back huge trays of catering leftover from events, and I try to salvage the food before it goes bad. The other day, we were blessed with 4 huge containers of rice. I had a ton of leftover takeout rice, so I made leftover salsa rice.
You know how rice gets really dry and gross after sitting in the fridge? Toasting the rice with oil and adding flavorful salsa makes leftover takeout rice fluffy, soft, and flavorful again. Interestingly, rice lasts much longer in the freezer than in the fridge, and you can freeze rice for up to 6 months!
Leftover Salsa Rice
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- 3 cups of cooked rice
- ¼ cup of salsa
- optional: sliced avocado, cheese, cilantro for serving
- Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the paprika, cumin, and black pepper. Stirring frequently, cook for 30-40 seconds until the spices smell fragrant.
- Add in the rice, and break up any large clumps. Stirring occasionally, cook for about a minute until the rice is toasted.
- Add in the salsa, and stir to combine.
- Olive oil: Adds flavor when toasting the spices. Any neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, canola) also works. Coconut oil will add coconut flavor, which would work for making coconut curry leftover rice.
- Paprika, cumin, black pepper: Add flavor. You can customize the spice blend depending on what flavor you want.
- Cooked rice: Usually leftover rice is sad and dry, but any sort of rice works. I used leftover takeout rice.
- Salsa: Adds flavor and moisture. Any salsa works. I used Trader Joe's Fall Harvest Salsa. If you don't have salsa, you can try adding a tomato or canned tomato, but the rice will be less flavorful.
Step by Step Photos
Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the paprika, cumin, and black pepper. Leftover salsa rice is super flexible, and you can add spices to taste. First cooking the spices alone in oil makes the spices tastier.
Stirring frequently, cook for 30-40 seconds until the spices smell fragrant. If you accidentally burn the spices, stop. Pour out the spices, rinse the pan, and try again. It's better to waste a small quantity of spices than a whole pan of burnt-tasting rice.
Add in the rice, and break up any large clumps. Usually, my rice has solidified in a huge chunk in the fridge, so I squeeze the rice block into smaller pieces using my hand.
Stirring occasionally, cook for about a minute until the rice is toasted. Now, if your pan sucks, you may find the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. In this case, you can add 1/4 cup of water or broth, and scrape off the stuck rice.
Add in the salsa, and stir to combine. Toasting the rice and adding salsa should be enough to moisten the rice. If at this point, you find that the rice is still dry, you can add 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking so the rice can absorb the additional moisture.
Serve leftover salsa rice immediately. It's very nice garnished with an avocado, sliced green onions, cheese, basically anything you would like with a burrito bowl. Since you added salsa, the rice is more moist and should stay good in the fridge for a few days.
What do you like to do with leftover rice? I used to make a lot of Asian-style fried rice with eggs, but leftover egg doesn't fare very well in the fridge. Leftover salsa rice is so much more versatile.
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