Arroz con Menestra (Lentil Stew with Rice)

March 16, 2010 | Filed Under Ecuadorian Recipes, Laylita's Recipes blog, Lentils, Rice | 15 Comments 

Lentil stew


Okay.  So the rice is missing in the photo with the lentil stew, but we all know what rice looks like.  Right?

I always enjoy reading and then trying to prepare the Ecuadorian recipes that I see on Laylita’s Recipes.  This is another simple  recipe — Lentil stew with rice.   The lentils simmer with onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cumin and cilantro.  That’s about it.  According to Laylita, this is a popular dish in Ecuador.  It’s served with grilled meat (The full name of the dish is actually arroz con menestra de lentejas y carne asada — lentil stew with rice and grilled meat.).   Like Laylita, I substituted the meat with a fried egg.  Loved it!




Lentil Stew with Rice (Arroz con Menestra)
Laylita’s Recipes




3 tbs canola oil

1 red onion, diced

1 bell pepper, diced

3 tomatoes, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp cumin

3 tsp salt

1 tsp achiote

4 tbs chopped cilantro

7 cups of water

1 lb lentils




  1. Heat the canola oil on medium heat in a large sauce pan.
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomato, garlic, cumin, salt, achiote and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro to make a refrito for the stew.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the water and increase heat to bring water to boil.
  5. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium low, cover partially and cook until the lentils are tender, stir in the remaining 2 tbs of cilantro and remove from the heat.
  6. Serve with Ecuadorian style cooked rice, carne asada o carne frita (fried thin beef steaks), fried ripe plantains or fried green plantains, and a small salad or avocado slices.











Menestra de Porotos (Bean Stew)

March 9, 2010 | Filed Under Beans, Ecuadorian Recipes, Laylita's Recipes blog, Pinto Beans | 10 Comments 


I first made this Ecuadorian dish last month for my mom’s birthday.  Since then, I’ve made it several more times.  According to Laylita’s Recipes, "a menestra is a popular stew type dish of lentils or beans and served with rice, plantains, salad and your choice of protein: beef, pork, fish, chicken or an egg  (vegetarian option)."  Using pinto beans in this recipe, the meal went over very well with my family.  Although the cooking time was about two hours, the preparation for the bean stew was very fast and simple.  After simmering in red onions, tomatoes, crushed garlic, achiote (annatto powder), cumin and chili powder, the beans were ready and tasted so good — so full of flavor.  Following the recipe instructions, I served the beans with rice, ripe plantain (my favorite!), avocado, tomato and onion curtido and salad.  To learn more about a menestra, stop by Laylita’s Recipes.




Menestra de Porotos (Bean Stew)

Laylita’s Recipes


Ingredients (for 8-10 large servings):

1 lb dry beans, soaked overnight
2-3 tbs canola oil
1 red onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup of diced and peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ tsp achiote powder
1 tsp cumin seeds – whole
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs chili powder
8 or more cups water

2-3 tbs finely chopped cilantro or parsley

Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan or pot, add the diced onions and crushed garlic, let cook for about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, achiote powder, cumin seeds and ground cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add 8 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the soaked beans and simmer for about 2 hours.
  5. Mix in the chopped cilantro or parsley.
  6. Serve with Ecuadorian style cooked rice, fried plantains, salad with tomato and onion curtido, fried or grilled meat (or fish /poultry/egg), avocado slices and some good aji or hot sauce on the side.









Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

February 15, 2009 | Filed Under Ecuadorian Recipes, Poultry, Rice | 21 Comments 

We all know that there are different variations of Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken) and depending on the country or region, it is made a little differently.  

Ever since I discovered this particular rice recipe below, I’ve been making it at least once a week.  Each time, my rice becomes better and better.  I HEART it.  Actually, I PUFFY HEART it.  This Ecuadorian-style rice with chicken recipe has become my favorite rice recipe.   When I first saw it, some of its ingredients, like beer or wine, intrigued me.  Rice cooked with beer or wine?  I used the wine and found that worked really well.  The rice had an extra special taste. 

I enjoyed everything in the rice — the seasoned chicken, the carrots, the tomatoes….  Thankfully, I didn’t have much trouble with the amount of water in relation to the amount of rice.  Normally when I make these chicken rice dishes (see my jollof rice), I usually end up with too much water or too little water, making my rice soggy or dry.  Uggh!  Fortunately my rice turned out very well with this recipe and the more I made it, the better it turned out.

As suggested, I served the chicken rice with ripe fried plantains and pickled onions.  Other times, I served it with a side salad, avocado slices and aji criollo (Ecuadorian hot sauce).  It depended on what I had in the kitchen.

When one of my brothers stops by and I prepare this rice, he makes sure to take some home in some tupperware.  The boy never brings back the tupperware.   *sigh*

Now.  I have a confession about the Arroz con Pollo photo above.  While I’ve made rice and chicken several times, in this particular instance, you are looking at rice with turkey wings (the only part of the turkey that I like).  I can happily write that the rice with turkey turned out just fine.  The photo is of my leftovers, which I took to work the next day.  Thanks, Laylita for the recipe.

Paz (the riceaholic)


Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Laylita’s Recipes



3 lbs chicken, assorted pieces

1 tbs achiote powder

1 tbs ground cumin

½ tbs ground coriander

10 garlic cloves, crushed


2-3 tbs oil or butter1 white onion, diced, about 2 cups

2 celery stalks, finely diced

4 roma tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 bell pepper, diced

1 cup beer or white wine

1 to 1 ½ cup water or broth

2 cups rice

2 medium carrots, diced

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen

3 tbs finely chopped cilantro

Salt and pepper


Sides – ripe fried plantains, pickled onions or side salad, avocado slices and aji criollo



  1. Mix the crushed garlic, achiote, cumin, coriander and salt together.
  2. Rub the garlic seasoning on the chicken pieces.
  3. Heat the oil or butter on medium high heat in large sauté pan, add the chicken pieces (skin side down) and cook until browned on each side.
  4. Add the diced onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and celery, mix well and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add 1 cup of beer or white wine, cook for about 20-25 minutes over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half, stir frequently.
  6. Add the broth or water, rice, peas and carrots, mix well.
  7. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the rice is tender but still slightly firm.
  9. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve with ripe fried plantains, a small salad, pickled onions, avocado slices, and hot sauce on the side.










Cebollas Encurtidas (Pickled Onions)

February 8, 2009 | Filed Under Announcements, Ecuadorian Recipes, Latin Recipes, Laylita's Recipes blog | 13 Comments 


Hi Everyone.  I haven’t meant to seemingly abandon this food blog.  I know it’s been a while since I’ve put up a new post here.  Unfortunately, life is keeping me extremely busy and stressed.  As a result, I haven’t had much time to blog here or visit other blogs. Forgive me, please.   Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me and left messages here to make sure I was okay.  I very much appreciate your concern.

Anytime I go to the neighborhood Dominican restaurant and order mangú or one of my other favorite Latin meals, it comes with a typical side dish — cebollas encurtidas (pickled onions).  They are tasty sweet/sour-tasting pink, thinly sliced onions.  Normally, I have to beg them to add an extra serving of the pickled onions.  Depending on who waits on me, I get an amused or annoyed look before they comply.

Thanks to Laylita’s Recipes, I’ve now found out how to make my own cebollas encurtidas.  My own pickled onions!  Yay!  I no longer have to beg for an extra serving of onions.  Surprisingly, it’s easy to prepare.  All I need are red onions, lime, salt and a little bit of time of patience (waiting three hours or overnight for the onions to turn pink).  Oh, Layla’s recipe calls for sunflower oil.  I didn’t have that and used olive oil on one occassion and canola oil at another time.  And viola!   I have my tasty onions.  The only thing I need to practice is cutting the onions to produce nice, fine slices.  I’m told that it takes a good tomato knife and lots of practice.  I’m ready to practice my heart out to make nice, even onion slices.  Thanks, Layla!

Before I end my post, I wanted to let you know that I’ve opened a Zazzle Gallery, where I’ve put up a few postcards for sale.  These postcards have photos of NYC that you’ll see on my photo blog.  At the moment, I have 10 postcards featured.  If there’s a photo, in which you’re interested, let me know I’ll see it is possible to turn it into a postcard.  Check the gallery when you have a chance. 

If any of you miss New York Monday, don’t forget that you can always go here to find a NYC photo.


Paz’s Zazzle Gallery


Cebollas Encurtidas (Pickled Onions)

Laylita’s Recipes




2 small red onions


Juice of 3 limes


1 tablespoon sunflower oil


1 tablespoon salt + more to adjust taste




  1. Cut the onion in half, slice very finely (a mandolin is very helpful with this part) and place in a bowl
  2. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt and a squeeze of lime juice, let rest for about 10 minutes
  3. Cover the onions with lukewarm water and let rest for another 10 minutes
  4. Rinse and drain the onions
  5. Add the lime juice, salt and the oil, and mix well.
  6. Cover the onions and place in the fridge, the onions will start to turn pinkish after about 3 hours, and will turn very pink if left overnight. Taste again before serving and add salt if needed.