In Spain, they love rice and grow a very excellent variety: Arroz Bomba. This is a round grain rice of the Japonica variety with short, pearl-shaped grains. Bomba rice can soak up a lot of liquid, and if you cook it in a broth, it takes on much of its flavour. The rule of thumb here is: at least three and a half parts broth to one part bomba rice. To cook perfectly, this rice needs quite a long time, around 18 minutes.
The most famous Spanish rice dish is, of course, paella, but we will cook that another time. Today we are interested in a slightly different way of preparing the rice: we want to cook a creamy rice, arroz cremoso, the Spanish answer to Italian risotto. Since you don’t use butter or Parmigiano, this rice dish is much lighter, with less fat and fewer calories.
This dish can be prepared wonderfully with vegetables only, no one will miss anything. The diverse flavours of the different vegetables combine wonderfully with this marvellous rice, but remain to be tasted on their own. You just have to be patient.
We choose our widest pan and on medium heat (5 out of 10) first sweat diced onions and sliced mushrooms in about 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Do not chop the vegetables too finely.
When the onions are slightly golden and the mushrooms have lost some of their liquid, we add finely sliced garlic.
Next we add diced fennel, but ultimately any vegetable in this dish is exchangeable. However, keep in mind the time it takes for each vegetable to cook, as described here.
We continue with carrots and bush beans.
Once these vegetables are also slightly sautéed, we add one of our favourite vegetables – artichokes.
Our last vegetable for today is red bell peppers, they cook very quickly.
Now create some space in the middle of the pan and season with 2 teaspoons of Spanish paprika powder (pimentón dulce ahumado).
…and then immediately add a little pureed tomato. Under no circumstances should the paprika powder be heated dry for too long, otherwise it would quickly become bitter.
Mix everything thoroughly and season with a little salt and pepper. You can do this gently at first and season it further at any time later. Then add the rice.
Stir in the rice and cook for 2 – 3 minutes without adding any more liquid.
Now, also as with risotto, you can add a small amount of white wine and stir until it is completely absorbed – the alcohol will have evaporated. This adds a lot to the taste, but it is optional. We also did without it today.
In any case, it is time for the liquid, in our case vegetable stock, which we add hot so as not to interrupt the cooking process.
Unlike risotto, you do not have to add the stock gradually or stir constantly. However, you should stir thoroughly every 2 – 3 minutes so that the rice does not settle on the bottom of the pan and perhaps burn. In addition, cooking and stirring the bomba rice releases a lot of starch, which binds our broth and ensures a particularly creamy texture of the dish in the end.
The ratio of liquid to rice according to the rule of thumb mentioned above is always a good starting point. However, if you notice after about half of the cooking time for the rice that there is not much liquid left in the pan, add a little hot water or stock.
We love this dish. It is very nutritious yet light and elegant. It contains very few spices and still has a complex aroma. The rice with its wonderful texture is a great flavour carrier for the vegetables, the real star of the show.
And may the taste be with you.
Ingredients ( for 2 people):
2 – 3 cloves garlic
Vegetables as desired and according to season
(here: mushrooms, fennel, carrots, bush beans, artichokes, bell peppers)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp pimentón dulce ahumado
3 – 4 tbsp strained or grated tomatoes
150 g arroz bomba
600 ml vegetable stock (hot)
A little time and patience