Mexican Red Rice and Nopales Wreath

I was a very picky eater growing up. My mom sat with me during lunch and dinner time staring and waiting for me to finish my food while I stared out the window, thinking about excuses not to finish my food and playing with my toes. I ate tomatoes, fruit and rice - not thaaat bad of a diet. So anytime she could, my mom would sneak in vegetables. In Mexico, food is about gathering and sharing. Most social events revolve around food (and some mezcal too), about sharing family recipes, telling stories about the food and enjoying time together as a family, and with friends that become familia (yes, not all my tias and tios are actually blood-related). 

My great-aunt was a chef and passed along this recipe to my grandma, my mother and then to us. I enjoy making it when having people over, especially if they’re bringing their kids over. Having a kids’ menu vs. an adult menu was not something my mom did. Sometimes I hated it, but later on I learned to appreciate the rule she had of “try then judge.” Here’s a staple Mexican recipe you can share during the holidays or any Sunday celebrating with your amigxs and familia. 


  • 1 cup of long grain white rice, uncooked, soaked and well drained
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Half a jalapeno or serrano chile
  • 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 nopales (check out our IG for a video on how to clean cactus)
  • 2 poblano peppers (charred, skin off and seeded)

  1. Puree the tomatoes, tomato pure, stock or water and salt. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Add the rice and stir over medium-high heat until rice is golden brown.
  3. Add the garlic and chopped onion, sauté until the onion begins to brown.
  4. Stir the tomato sauce and mix. Place parsley and chile on top. Put a lid on and simmer for 20-25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Turn hit off and allow to sit (still covered) while you cook the nopales. 
  5. Most of the nopales in grocery stores come with spines removed, but give a quick check and run under water to make sure no spines remain. Bring the cactus to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. The cactus will turn from bright to darker green and will start releasing the slime.  Cook for 5-10 minutes and then drain (slime party coming ahead!). If you have an issue with slime, run the cooked nopales under cold water to remove the remaining slime. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Oil a ring mold and place the poblano slices at the bottom of the pan.  Place half of the red rice and press down firmly with a spatula. Top with the nopales, press down and place the remaining rice on top. Press down firmly with the spatula and cover with a silicone wrap for about 10 minutes. Unmold on a serving platter y listo! 


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