This baked tomato rice is easy to make, and it’s especially irresistible with a gooey cheese topping. Just pop it in the oven and it all cooks together!
Rice can sometimes be a bit boring, but bake it in tomato sauce with some veggies, and add a gooey cheese topping, and it’s anything but! This cheesy baked tomato rice makes an easy but irresistible side dish (as long as you can resist eating it straight from the dish).
Pretty much everything is better when it’s made in the oven. Ovens just have a way of making food extra rich and hearty. Just look at roasted vegetables – they’re infinitely better than veggies cooked any other way.
The same goes for baked rice. Okay, so it’s not exactly roasted, but it still ends up being more tasty, more hearty, and more comforting than rice that’s cooked on the hob.
Plus… when you bake it, you can add a super cheesy topping, which can be as gooey or as crispy as you choose. And as we all know, everything’s better with cheese.
Start with some veggies
I wanted to add some extra vegetables to my baked tomato rice, as I always love getting extra veg in wherever I can. But, I still wanted the dish to be rice-heavy, rather than veggie-heavy (otherwise I’d end up with another rice and vegetable casserole), so I didn’t go overboard.
I cooked off some onion, mushrooms and spinach, which I chopped quite finely. They add a nice flavour to the tomato rice, and I love knowing that there are a few veggies in my side dish, but it’s not enough to take the focus off the rice.
Next, it’s time to complete the tomato sauce by adding a tin of chopped tomatoes.
The sauce needs to be pretty thin at this stage, as this liquid is what will cook the rice in the oven. So, I also added some extra vegetable stock.
Add the uncooked rice, and transfer everything to a baking dish. From this point on, it will cook itself – go and put your feet up.
You can leave the recipe here, if you like, and you’ll end up with a beautiful, rich tomatoey rice dish, which is entirely vegan.
Or, if you’re anything like me… you’ll want a cheesy topping.
When the rice is pretty much cooked, just sprinkle some grated cheese on top, and return it to the oven for as long as it takes to get the topping you want. Leave it nice and gooey, or cook it a bit longer for golden brown, crispy cheese.
Aside from my two daughters… this is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
How to adapt this tomato rice recipe
As always, feel free to mix up this recipe as you see fit. I wouldn’t change the rice:liquid ratio too much, just in case you end up with rice that’s crunchy / soggy. But other than that, go wild.
You could easily change the vegetables you use in this tomato rice – some grated carrot, diced peppers, or chopped courgette (zucchini) would all work nicely.
You could also change the flavour of the sauce – you could add a dollop of curry paste for an Indian vibe, for example. A spoonful of basil pesto stirred through the sauce would work really nicely too.
How to serve tomato rice
This baked tomato rice is probably best served as a side dish. It could be served alongside all sorts of things, such as:
- some garlic bread and Caesar salad
- crispy tofu escalopes or tofu ‘chicken’ nuggets
- vegetable fritters
- lentil and veggie slice
- vegetable stroganoff
- tofu meatballs
- vegan pulled ‘pork’
- vegetarian koftas
- roasted vegetable ratatouille (or slow cooker ratatouille!)
Or, if you want to serve your tomato rice as a main meal on its own, you might want to add a tin of chickpeas or something to make it a bit more substantial.
Either way, it’s not hard to find an excuse to make this rich, cheesy, tomato baked rice…
Cheesy tomato baked rice
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium mushrooms, diced fairly small
- 1 large handful spinach, finely chopped
- 400 g tin (~ 1 1/3 cups) chopped tomatoes
- 150 g (~ 5 oz / ~ 2/3 cup) uncooked long-grain white rice
- 150 ml (~ 1/2 cup) vegetable stock
- 50 g (~ 1/2 cup) grated cheese (I used a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar)
- Heat a dash of oil in a frying pan, and add the diced onion, garlic, mushrooms and spinach. Cook for 5-10 minutes over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are fairly soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, rice, and vegetable stock, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish (mine measured approximately 8 x 8 inches), and add a lid (you can use kitchen foil if you don’t have a lid).
- Bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 30 minutes, or until the rice is almost entirely cooked. Give it a stir, then sprinkle with grated cheese. Return to the oven (uncovered) until the cheese has crisped up to your liking (another 10-15 minutes).
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/3 of the recipe (a side dish portion). The recipe will only serve 2 if used as a main meal.