Earlier this week, I tried to make a new twist on zucchini bread.
Instead, I started a small oven fire when the batter overflowed its pan.
I like trying new things in the kitchen, but I like having reliable recipes to fall back on too. This green rice with smoked paprika is something I make several times a year and each time I do, I wonder why I don’t make it even more often.
At it’s most basic, this isn’t much more than rice, laced with butter and green vegetables. But it toes the line between comfort food and health food in a most beguiling way.
Better still, it comes together quickly.
Topped with a fried or poached egg, it makes for a satisfying weeknight meal in a bowl.
I would call it a crowd pleaser, but we only have a crowd of three around here and the baby prefers his green vegetables without the distraction of cheese, butter and carbs. (He actually picks out the vegetables and leaves the rest behind — who is this kid?) Paul, however, claims an ardent dislike of paprika, yet is always happy when this shows up on the dinner table.
This recipe makes good use of frozen peas — my favorite convenience food and one of those things I always have stashed away in case of emergency produce shortages. We tend to have a lot of arugula around too (see above reference to the baby and his scarfing of green vegetables). That means this is one of those recipes that I can often pull off without advance planning. Or, in other words, the best kind of recipe to have.
The paprika adds a nice, smokey complexity to an otherwise simple dish and the mint and lemon juice brighten up the whole thing. That is, if you remember them. I managed to take pictures of the mint but forgot to add it to the finished dish this time around.
At least I didn’t start another fire.
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks. I've streamlined the instructions a little, bumped up the quantity of peas and arugula and given more precise measurements across the board. But this is a recipe that's hard to screw up, so don't hesitate to adjust amounts based on your personal preferences or what you have on hand.
Old paprika tastes terrible — resist the urge to dust off the spice bottle you've been schlepping around since the '90s and treat yourself to some new stuff. I like to buy my spices from bulk bins with high turnover. They're fresher that way and less expensive too, since you can buy whatever quantity you need.
- 2 cups brown rice
- 2 cups frozen green peas
- 1 recipe arugula-shallot butter
- 2 cups roughly chopped arugula, loosely packed
- 12 mint leaves
- 1 1/2 cups grated gruyere or other melty cheese, lightly packed
- 1-2 teaspoons smoked, Spanish paprika
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, well toasted
- lemon wedges
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- a big handful of arugula
- one medium shallot, peeled
- one big pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
Cook the rice according to package directions until tender but not mushy, usually about 40-45 minutes. Fluff with a fork, remove from heat and immediately stir in the peas. Cover and set aside for about five minutes, until peas are warmed through.
Stir in the arugula butter, arugula, mint and cheese. Season with salt if needed.
Top with paprika and nuts and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for at least 30 seconds or so, until everything is well combined and relatively smooth. It will look a little like pesto. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed, with a little extra salt or honey.