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Colorful tomato rice makes filling meatless meal

It’s perfect picnic and outdoor dining fare.

But one of my all-time favorite rice dishes, admittedly, requires a trip to the grocery store for cooks who don’t keep pine nuts, Kalamata olives and wild rice on hand. If you’ve got the ingredients or desire to obtain them, tune into my latest podcast featuring Wild Rice Salad Olivo.

If you’re relying on pantry staples for the time being, consider this flavorful, colorful recipe from Tribune News Service. It’s got wholesome fiber from chickpeas, a little kick from chiles and makes a satisfying meatless Monday meal, whatever holiday plans your family has in store.

See my current food section column for more main-dish rice recipes with global flavors.

Tomato Rice With Chickpeas

2 cups long-grain rice

3 tablespoons neutral oil

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

3 large garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed chile pepper flakes or 2 small green chiles

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or 2 small cinnamon sticks

1 (15.5-ounce) chickpeas, drained

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Salt, to taste

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup cilantro (optional)

6 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half

Wash the rice at least 3 to 4 times in cold water, drain well and set it aside.

In a Dutch oven or large pot, add the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, chile pepper flakes or green chiles. Stir for 3 minutes. Add the ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks; stir for 2 minutes.

Add the garbanzo beans and stir for 1 more minute. Add crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.

Add the rice and 1 1/2 cups water. Taste and add more salt if needed. Cover pot with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low.

Stir rice after 15 minutes and again after another 5 minutes. Turn off heat once all water is absorbed by rice and chickpeas. Keep lid on for 5 minutes.

Transfer rice into a serving bowl or platter. Remove cinnamon sticks. Sprinkle with the cilantro, if using.

Gently mix 6 halved eggs into rice and place 6 on top. Makes 6 servings.

Tribune News Service photo