OVERHEAD SHOT OF CILANTRO-LIME RICE WITH CORN AND SQUASH IN GLASS BOWL. GARNISHED WITH COTIJA CHEESE AND CILANTRO.

Cilantro-Lime Rice with Pan-Roasted Corn and Zucchini

This cilantro-lime rice recipe delivers bold flavors while incorporating seasonal vegetables to create a truly delicious side dish for any meal.

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Cilantro-Lime Rice Hits All the High Notes

Rice is one of my go-to sides and base ingredients for a variety of different meals. It’s a great support player for many styles of cuisine ranging from Mexican to Thai, Indian to Creole – and the list goes on and on from there. 

Even when incorporating rice into a meal as a side dish, I want the flavors to sing. And this Cilantro-Lime Rice with Corn and Zucchini arrives with a full band of flavors. 

Complete with sweetly tart lime, herbaceous and citrusy cilantro, a pleasant char from the pan-roasted corn and zucchini, subtle heat from the jalapeno and some salty tang from the cotija cheese, this simple rice dish is composed of an impressive group of ingredients working together in perfect harmony.

CILANTRO LIME RICE WITH PAN-ROASTED CORN AND ZUCCHINI PINTEREST IMAGE 1

Ingredients in Cilantro-Lime Rice with Pan-Roasted Corn and Zucchini

  • Rice: Long-grain rice works best in this dish such as long-grain white rice, basmati or jasmine rice. 

 

  • Lime:  Both the juice and zest are used in this recipe. 

 

  • Cilantro: Freshly chopped cilantro is used to finish this dish. 

 

  • Zucchini and Yellow Squash: I used a combination of zucchini and squash since I had both on hand. They’re closely related cousins in the vegetable family and are similar in terms of taste and texture, so you could certainly stick with one or the other for this recipe. I tend to have an abundance of zucchini on hand from my garden, so I’m always looking for ways to use them, and I love the extra color they add to this dish. 

 

  • Corn: I scored a large amount of fresh sweet corn from a local grower, so I used some from my frozen stash for this recipe. Store-bought frozen and canned corn also work great for this recipe.

 

  • Jalapeno: I enjoy some mild heat in my food, so I added a small bit of jalapeno for a little extra kick. 

 

  • Cotija Cheese: Cotija cheese is so wonderfully tangy and salty. It’s a crumbly cheese, so it resists melting, even when added to a hot dish. I love that it retains its form and texture making every bite exciting and different. You could also use queso fresco or feta cheese in place of cotija. 
Overhead View of Ingredients for Corn and Lime Rice - Squash, Rice, Limes, Cilantro, Corn and Cotija Cheese.

What to Pair with Cilantro-Lime Rice

I’ve served some variation of this Cilantro-Lime Rice with many different dishes. Some of my favorite things include:

  • Burritos
  • Enchiladas 
  • Rice Bowls: Try using this rice recipe in these Carnitas Bowls. This is an especially great way to use up any leftover rice. 
  • Fajitas
  • Chicken: I especially love serving this rice with some pan-seared chicken thighs, but any chicken dish works well! Whole roasted chicken is a close second for me. 
  • Beef Bulgogi
  • By Itself: This rice dish is so good, that we happily nosh on any leftovers we may have for lunch the next day. Filling, nutritious and delicious!
OVERHEAD VIEW OF CILANTRO-LIME RICE WITH CORN AND SQUASH ON PLATE WITH CARNITAS TACOS AND ORANGE AND LIME WEDGES.

Tips and Tricks

  • Confession time – When I first started learning to cook at home, I did not wash my rice. I just didn’t know I needed to do so. As it turns out, rice definitely needs to be thoroughly washed before cooking! And after seeing the water after washing, I’m more than just a little skeeved out that I fed my family dirty rice. And I’m not talking about the good kind of dirty rice…Washing the rice does a few things: 1. Cleans away any dirt, bugs, debris and chemicals clinging to your rice. 2. Removes excess starch from the surface of the rice kernels. This helps to produce fluffier rice overall. So take it from me – do not skip washing the rice 😉 

 

  • If using fresh corn on the cob for this recipe, try using a bundt cake pan for removing the corn from the cob. Just place one end of the cob on the center hole of your bundt cake pan. While holding the end of the cob pointing up, use your knife to carefully cut down the sides of the corn cob. As you cut, the kernels fall into the basin of the pan. It makes removing the kernels super easy while keeping them all contained!

 

  • This hack is a bit controversial, especially for corn purists, but I want to share it because it can be useful in certain situations and for certain people. If you struggle with shucking corn, try microwaving the corn cob – husk and all – in the microwave for 2-4 minutes. Then cut the bottom off the cob (be careful, the corn will be hot!). While holding the uncut end, gently shake and squeeze the corn out of the husk. The corn slides out of the husk leaving the pesky silk hairs behind. 

 

  • If you prefer to shuck corn the traditional way, a clean toothbrush is a helpful little tool to easily remove the silk hairs that like to cling to the corn cob. 
Cilantro-Lime Rice with Pan-Roasted Corn and Zucchini Pinterest Image 2

Method

Cook the rice as directed. 

While the rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, zucchini, squash and jalapeno and sauté while stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly charred. 

Then season to taste with salt, pepper and Tajin seasoning. 

Once the rice is finished, add olive oil, lime juice and lime zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fluff with a fork. 

Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the pan-roasted corn and zucchini mixture. 

Top with crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro.

If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out some of these other great side dishes!

PARTIAL OVERHEAD VIEW OF BOWL OF CILANTRO-LIME RICE WITH CORN AND SQUASH NEAR CILANTRO LEAVES AND TEA TOWEL.
OVERHEAD SHOT OF CILANTRO-LIME RICE WITH CORN AND SQUASH IN GLASS BOWL. GARNISHED WITH COTIJA CHEESE AND CILANTRO.

Cilantro-Lime Rice with Pan-Roasted Corn and Zucchini

Cilantro-Lime Rice with Corn and Zucchini delivers bold flavors while incorporating seasonal vegetables to create a truly delicious side dish for any meal.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 servings
Calories 295 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice, rinsed and soaked as needed (You want to end up with roughly 3 cups of cooked rice.)
  • 1 cup corn
  • ½ cup zucchini, diced
  • ½ cup yellow squash, diced
  • ½ of a jalapeno, finely minced
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Tajin chili lime seasoning
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup cotija cheese
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Cook the rice as directed.
  • While the rice cooks, heat roughly one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, zucchini, squash and jalapeno and saute while stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes or until slightly charred.
  • Then season to taste with salt, pepper and Tajin seasoning.
  • Once the rice is finished, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lime juice and lime zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fluff with a fork.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with the pan-roasted corn and zucchini mixture.
  • Top with crumbled cotija cheese and cilantro.
Keyword Rice Dish, Side Dish

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