This Tropical Fried Rice with Tomato Jalapeño Relish is the perfect combination of sweet and spicy and makes for an easy vegetarian meal option. The Tomato Jalapeño Relish can be used as a topping on sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, veggies or anything else!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.
As a registered dietitian, of course I have an interest in local foods. I heavily support sustainability and the farmers who make food available to us. Of course, I try to buy local whenever I can, and I definitely think it’s worth spending a few extra dollars to do so.
While I was in grad school, I remember having a great discussion about the local foods movement in one of my classes. We discussed how many states are working to improve access to local foods by passing laws that expand the presence of farmers’ markets.
Also, the SNAP program (formally known as food stamps) now allocates funds for participants to use at farmers’ markets, which is great!
While consumers’ interest in local foods is growing, it still represents a very small supply of the larger scale national food supply. I’ve talked to many local farmers for freelance articles, interviews and my own general curiosity.
Therefore, I have soooo much respect for the hard work they put forth to feed their local communities. Doesn’t it make sense to try to get foods that are grown right down the road from you? I much prefer this to buying foods imported from across the United States, or even another country!
Promoting Local Food in Charlotte
With that thought in mind, I’m delighted that Walmart is teaming up with a local Charlotte chef to bring a spotlight to locally grown produce available in North Carolina’s Walmart stores.
Walmart is making a point to make local food more accessible to consumers, and I hope this provides some inertia/momentum for other larger scaled grocery stores to do the same.
Chef Gene Kato, of Charlotte’s restaurant Upstream, was recently recognized by the James Beard Foundation as a Best Chef Semifinalist, and is participating in a culinary documentary series called “Rediscovering America.”
This program is working to highlight the importance of fresh, affordable and locally grown produce. The farm to table movement needs actions like these to help generate more awareness for consumers.
Walmart is currently highlighting jalapeño peppers from Bailey Farms in Oxford, North Carolina. Chef Kato even used these in his sushi menu at Upstream. All of the work involved in bringing awareness to such a cause near and dear to my heart even inspired me to create a recipe using these same local jalapeño peppers.
Cooking With Jalapeños
I wouldn’t consider myself a pepper or spicy foods connoisseur, but the more I delve into the local farm-to-table movement, the more I’m learning and willing to experiment with newer-to-me ingredients.
I’ve never actually cooked with jalapeño peppers before (I typically use the familiar bell peppers), but I thought this would be a great opportunity to do so.
The most important thing I learned while trialing this recipe is to use gloves when handling jalapeño peppers! Because they have capsaicin glands (which account for the spiciness), the oil can stick around on your hands!
I had tingling fingers for hours after cutting and handling the jalapeño peppers which made for an interesting night. In the future, I’ll use gloves when cutting them. Lesson learned.
Secondly, I wanted to pair the spicy nature of the jalapeño with something fruity, to tone it down a bit. So, I added some apple cider vinegar to the relish (along with some juicy local tomatoes). I then decided it would go well with a citrus fruit, like pineapple, so I created a tropical pineapple fried rice to put the relish over.
It took a few tries to get the relish to the desired taste. You can always keep the seeds in if you want it spicier or use less ACV. Very customizable!
Psssst – making relish is fun!
How To Make It
The jalapeño relish has a bit of a bite but is greatly tamed down by the apple cider vinegar and sugar. It’s a great canvas for adding other veggies and protein too. Most importantly, the fluffiness of the rice is the perfect complement to the slight kick of the relish. It’s amazingly robust.
Lastly, I chose white rice because I prefer the taste, but you could also use brown rice! You can also add more protein in, like beans, eggs, chicken, beef, tofu, etc. The opportunities really are endless.
- 1 ½ cups sliced fresh jalapeños
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp sugar, optional
- 4 tsp pepper
- 3-4 cups white rice, cooked and cooled
- 2 tbsp sesame oil, divided
- 2 cups frozen peas/carrots, you can use fresh too!
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- ½ cup pineapple, diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- To make the relish, begin by chopping jalapeños, tomatoes and onion. To chop the jalapeños, halve them lengthwise, and scoop the seeds out (you can add them in later if you want more spice!).
- Place jalapeños in food processor and mix with garlic. Add in onions, tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, salt and sugar. Process for (few minutes) until they are in tiny pieces. Stop before they become wet and pureed!
- Pour the mixture in a mason jar, close tightly, and set in the refrigerator to chill for one hour.
- To make the fried rice, cook and cool 3-4 cups of rice.
- Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in a saucepan. Add peas and carrots and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add garlic. Once soft, add soy sauce, remaining sesame oil and pineapple.
- Add cooled rice back in and mix all ingredients together. Cook on low for 5 minutes to let the flavors marinate the rice.
- Pour relish over rice and enjoy immediately.
You’ll want to cook the rice ahead of time so it is cool when you’re handling it.
Store leftover relish in the refrigerator for up to one week.
I would suggest using this Tomato Jalapeño Relish on everything! Like seriously…put it on your sandwich, your burger, your wings, your hotdogs. Drizzle it over veggies. I also happen to think it would pair greatly with some grits or cornbread.
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Are you a spicy person? Have you ever cooked with jalapeños?
What would you add this relish to?