Arroz a la jardinera- Gardener’s Rice!
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Think about some of the most popular Costa Rican food– there’s Costa Rican white rice in gallo pinto and in a Costa Rican casado. We wrap rice into our Christmas tamales, eat it in black bean soup, with shredded beef, with olla carne vegetable beef stew… seriously. White rice is everything.
And with all that white rice, sometimes a person gets tired of it. That’s where arroz a la jadinera comes in. It’s basically rice with some spices and chopped veggies mixed in and usually a little bit of achiote coloring. It’s also just a bit different- not the same old same old Costa Rican side dish.
And I LOVE it. It’s mostly served in Guanacaste, although you will find it in other parts of the country. This is the rice that is used in Costa Rican tamales as well.
I’m giving you the arroz a la jardinera recipe in Costa Rican style today- the way that I make it. Everyone does it a bit differently, but the bottom line is, this recipe is a great start.
Note: This recipe is also called arroz arreglado in Costa Rica. Arroz a la jardinera literally translates to the gardener’s rice- because of the vegetables you add.
Cooking Tools For Arroz a la jardinera
Rice cooker- I use a 4-cup rice cooker almost always because I prefer to eat all the rice we make at once instead of reheating it. When I need more than 4 cups of rice at a time (like when I’m making arroz con pollo) I use my Instant Pot.
Arroz a la jardinera Recipe
(printable recipe below)
- white rice (I use Jasmine rice)
- water or chicken broth
- vegetable oil
- white onion
- red pepper
- achiote paste
In the bottom of your rice cooker, pour the vegetable oil and move it around so that it coats the bottom of the inner pot.
Press the cook button so that the pot begins to heat up.
Add vegetables and achiote and lightly stir fry- for about 5 minutes, mixing gently every 1-2 minutes.
Add rice and water, and stir everything together.
Put the lid on the pot and cook until done.
Lightly stir the rice to evenly distribute the achiote.
Serve and enjoy- especially with a dollop of Salsa Lizano!
Related post: What Is Salsa Lizano From Costa Rica?
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The main variation of this recipe is to make it on the stovetop instead of in the rice cooker or the instant pot. Simply bring the rice, veggies, achiote, salt, and water to a boil on medium-high heat. Let it simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.
For the rice in the photo, I used a yellow bell pepper instead of a red bell pepper.
You can also use any type of oil that you want- it doesn’t just have to be vegetable oil. I often use olive oil because that’s what I have on hand.
You can make this with brown rice and it is absolutely delicious
What type of rice should I use to make arroz a la jardinera?
Costa Ricans always use long-grain rice. However- almost all of their rice is grown in-country, and it has a distinctly different flavor and texture from the long-grain rice found in the United States. For that reason, I use Jasmine Rice. I prefer the texture and think it tastes better in the United States.
What do I serve with arroz a la jardinera?
Almost any dish that uses white rice as a side can also use arroz a la jardinera. A few of my favorites are: Shredded beef with red sauce, Oxtail in red sauce, Costa Rican tamales and to spice up a Costa Rican Casado.
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Costa Rican Arroz a la jardinera
Arroz a la jardinera is the gardener's rice: a twist on Costa Rica white rice that adds veggies and spices for a totally new flavor!
- You'll need a rice cooker or Instant Pot for this recipe
- 4 cups white rice (long grain or Jasmine)
- 4 cups water or chicken broth
- 3 TB vegetable oil (or other oil of your choosing)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
- 1/8 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons achiote (found at most Hispanic grocery stores, or you can buy Costa Rican Dos Patitos Achiote on Amazon, link below)
- In the bottom of your rice cooker, pour the vegetable oil and move it around so that it coats the bottom of the inner pot.
- Press the cook button so that the pot begins to heat up.
- Add vegetables and achiote and lightly stir fry- for about 5 minutes, mixing gently every 1-2 minutes.
- Add rice and water, and stir everything together.
- Put the lid on the pot and cook until done.
- Lightly stir the rice to evenly distribute the achiote.
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Welcome! I’m Christa, a former high school teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. I love all things Spanish and bi-cultural, (especially travel and food!) and you’ll find my observations on life here. Thanks for stopping by