This Garlicky Zucchini Rice with Pico de Gallo is one of my go-to side dish recipes. The secret really is in the annatto oil. I like preparing a bottle of annatto oil and using it for all of my favorite rice dishes. It adds a little splash of color and an extra kick to the flavor.
First prepare the annatto oil: Combine the annatto seeds and canola oil in a small saucepan. Heat to medium heat until it starts to lightly bubble, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool, strain through a fine, wire-mesh strainer. Once cooled, store in glass bottle in the refrigerator. I like using this oil for a lot of my basic Latin cooking. It adds a nice, earthy flavor and gives that great color to your rice dishes.
For the pico de gallo, combine all ingredients, adding salt to taste and ½ teaspoon of fresh cracked pepper, stir well to combine, let stand for 20 minutes. In a heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of annatto oil to medium heat. Add the rice and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to toast and becomes aromatic. Add the cumin seeds and cook for another minute.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. If using the bouillon cube, break it up slightly before adding to the rice, along with water. Add the broth (if using), ½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir well to combine. When it comes to a boil, add the zucchini evenly to the top of rice.
Reduce heat, cover and cook for another 15 to 18 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. When ready, fluff the rice with a fork and fold in the pico de gallo.
Anytime you add roasted peppers or onions to your favorite salsa recipe, it adds so much more flavor!