Here’s a way to take rice from ordinary to amazing. SAMANTHA DELLILO/Keys Weekly

Since I was a kid, I struggled eating just plain old rice. I always needed black beans or something to bring it to life. 

Nowadays, one of my favorite recipes is toasted coconut rice. The flavor is so amazing and pairs well with just about any protein. Take it up another notch by buying a pineapple, cutting it in half vertically and scooping out the inside to make a shell. Save the pineapple flesh for a future snack, of course. Nestle some coconut rice and teriyaki chicken side-by-side in the hollow pineapple shell and get ready for a dinner that looks like resort-level plating. But really pick anything you want to accompany this stellar rice.

For the rice you’ll need:
14 ounce can full fat regular coconut milk
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
1/3 cup shredded coconut (I prefer unsweetened)
1/4 cup of sugar
A nice pinch of salt
The smallest pinch of nutmeg

First off, take the jasmine rice, rinse it well, strain and put aside. Grab a saucepan, and on medium low heat, toast the shredded coconut until golden. It burns quickly so keep an eye on it. Put it aside to cool. 

Grab that same sauce pan so we keep dirty dishes at a minimum, and combine inside the coconut milk, sugar, salt, nutmeg, rice and roughly a can full of water. Stir it up and bring it to a boil. Once you see bubbles, stir one more time and reduce the heat to a light simmer. Put the lid on the pan and leave it for about 20 minutes. 

At the 20-minute mark, I take the lid off and give the rice a poke to make sure the texture feels cooked and correct. You will see a creamy layer form on top; this is normal. Remove the pan from the heat, take a fork and fluff the rice gently. Put the lid back on and let it rest for about 10 minutes. 

Bear in mind this rice has a slightly stickier texture than regular rice, but it should still be a fluffy rice texture. Scoop some out onto a plate, or pineapple, and top with your toasted coconut. I hope you love it!

Samantha Dellilo has been in the Keys since she was 1 day old, so definitely consider her a Conch. Holding a passion for food since she can remember, while most kids were watching Barney, she was watching Emeril. "Being half Cuban and half Italian, food in those cultures is considered a love language. It's a total experience whether eating out or cooking." She's been with her other half, Marky, going on 17 years. The two met when they were 9 years old at Key Largo School. Samantha owns Florida Keys Eats, which is a blog of "must eat, must see, and must dos" from Key Largo to Key West.