HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Seductions of Rice: Pilaf, Paella, Risotto: The Mediterranean Way

..for discussion..

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Egyptian Rice p.319

    I happened upon some Egyptian rice the other day, and bought it on account of the description in this book. I am so happy to have discovered this rice, it is a gem! So light and dainty, the grains are smaller, and remain separate after cooking, yet are creamy. Love it. The authors offer perfect cooking instructions for this rice, and I enjoyed it with the optional saffron mixed in. I really recommend giving this grain a try; it's wonderful!

    Savory Fava Bean Stew p.320.

    The accompanying fava bean stew was also a delicious, easy dish. I am constantly surprised by the recipes in this book, and the ones with the fewest ingredients seems to taste the best. This was simply onions and garlic sauteed with oil and some ground coriander. Fava beans are added and cooked until tender, cayenne and salt are sprinkled in. Some of my (frozen) beans had dissolved into the mix, while some remained whole, so it was almost like a dryer version of dal. It doesn't make a whole lot, the next time I make this I will double the recipe. This was a comforting, homey kind of dish with a hint of exotic flavours. Very simple and rustic. Excellent with ground pepper on top. I loved it!

    1. Puig’s Black Rice with Alioli paella negra p. 330

      Because it’s just the two of us at home, I made a third of the recipe using 1 c of bomba rice.
      If your fish stock is already made, this is an easy after work recipe. Saute finely chopped onions and green peppers for 5 minutes, add chopped cuttlefish (or squid) and cook until the onions and peppers are very soft and tender. In the meantime, bring fish stock and black ink to a simmer. Add rice to the sofrito until it is translucent, add chopped asparagus, add the stock and bring to a boil for 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to keep it at a gentle simmer until almost done (I start checking at about 15-17 minutes in). Add some garlic cloves pounded into a paste and reserved stock and vinegar (I used sherry vinegar). Cook 3 minutes and rest for 5 serve with alioli (a must for me- addicting, garlicky and adds another dimension to the finished dish).

      This is such a striking dish to make that tastes of the sea. I’m glad that I tried this version, but I do prefer Paula Wolfert’s from World of Food and Penelope Casas’s from Food and Wine of Spain. The absence of shrimp and tomatoes are probably the biggest differences between this recipe and the Wolfert/Casas.

      Alioli p. 329

      This is a wonderfully creamy, intensely garlicky emulsion. Garlic and salt is mashed into a paste and olive oil is slowly added (be patient or your lovely emulsion will turn from creamy goodness into an oil slick). Finish with vinegar or lemon juice. I am always hit or miss with this traditional recipe and consequently have used Penelope Casas’s version with egg yolk. This go around everything started off so well and I was ¾ of the way done and elated. In the home stretch, I added the oil too fast (my arm was getting tired) and then it separated. Disappointed, I added the bread moistened with vinegar to the broken sauce- not quite the same. Maybe next time, I’ll get it right.

      1. Aromatic Rice and fish with two Sauces Caldero Murciano p. 335 (half recipe)

        Saute garlic cloves and grilled red bell pepper. This is pounded into a paste and reserved for later. Add peeled, chopped tomatoes to the oil in the pan (I just grate my tomatoes rather than peel/ chop- a trick I learned from a Jose Andres book), cook for a few minutes, add the garlic-pepper paste, boiling water, salt, potato and fish. Cook until fish is cooked through and remove fish and keep warm. Keep cooking until the potato is cooked through and remove. Strain the stock, measure out 2.5 c and bring to boil, then add reserved 2T stock that was mixed with saffron and pimenton. Add 1 c bomba rice to boiling stock and simmer for about 15 minutes or until done and rest 5-10 minutes. The rice is served with a alioli sauce (garlic and salt paste, mashed cooked potato, egg yolk, olive oil, stock and black pepper). This sauce is like the alioli recipe on p. 329, but much easier to make and not quite as sharp, but still very garlicky. The fish is served separately with a pepper sauce (garlic, salt, roasted red pepper, parsley, olive oil, stock, pimenton, and lemon juice).

        This dish is a keeper and will make again with some adjustments. The next time, I will try this with ñoras. Since this book was written in 1998, I suspect these are the traditional peppers mentioned, but were not readily available then. I will also use a thicker, heartier fish. We used cod that was rather thin, a thicker cut of sea bass would have worked better. A quick version of this dish could also be made without fish, just using ready made fish stock.

        The rice and the alioli were the scene stealers and the fish and red pepper sauce, although tasty, were superfluous (could have been because of my choice of fish too).

        1. Risotto with Salami and Red Beans, Pg. 348

          This was a satisfying, hearty risotto. Really terrific for a cold day in the winter but since yesterfay was a cold day in late Spring I thought it would make a fine dinner. I did make a few substitutions but nothing too different than the original ingredients%3

          Chicken salsiccia instead of mild salami or cutello (which BTW I would have really loved to use)

          Fresh Jacob's Cattle beans instead of red beans

          Home made turkey stock instead of beef stock

          The first thing is to gently simmer the stock with a cup of bean liquid. I had made fresh beans in the slow cooker during the day so they were at the ready. Cook a chopped onion in olive oil for a few minutes then toss in a soffritto of chopped carrot and celery. When the onion is soft add a chopped tomato and cook till everything is soft. Next, add a cup of red wine and reduce that a little bit. The rice is added and stirred till coated with everything in the pot.

          Now begins the ladling of the stock and cooking till enough liquid has been absorbed to create a tender risotto with a still firm center. A cup of beans is stirred into the risotto then most of the sliced meat. Let this rest off heat for about 5 minutes. Serve in warm bowls with the remaining sliced meat strewn over top. No butter nor grated cheese for this dish.

          I thought it was very tasty. The rice was cooked perfectly, the beans were well cooked and toothsome, the salsiccia were slightly spicy. Notice there was no salt or pepper in the recipe. My stock was saltless, only the beans had a pinch of salt added so the finished dish was very mild, but still tasty. G gave this a B+ because he would have liked more spice. It's such a simple dish to make, though, it will definitely get a remake.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Gio, this does sound good and easy (though I'd have eaten all the salami as I sliced it). Which kind of rice did you use?

            1. re: blue room

              I used aborio rice. I was all out of carnaroli

            2. re: Gio

              Gio: sounds as if you have used Jacob Cattle Beans in their fresh form already. This post is the sole reference I have found to this gorgeous looking bean. I have used them frequently in their dried form but never fresh. I have a row in my garden that is doing splendidly: any tips for their use as a fresh bean?

              1. re: LJS

                Good Morning, LJS,
                As I re-read my report about the risotto I realized the word "fresh" might be misleading. The beans I used came from Freedom Farm, an organic farm in Maine. By fresh I meant they were fresh in the sense they were newly packaged from last Autumn's crop. While I have never grown JCB I have grown several varieties of the scarlet runner bean and have cooked them as I would fresh (just picked off the bush) garden peas.

                I have to say though, and totaly off topic, I grew the beans for their gorgeous white, pink and purple flowers which attracted humming birds. And one year I left the last of the pods on the vine and a flock of chickadees had a feast all winter... The extra gift of growing your own.

                PS: We love the JCB and cook them regularly. Don't forget to save some of your crop to plant next year.

                1. re: Gio

                  Thanks for the clarification: I am happy to provide a buffet for the humming birds in my garden: they are bored with the plastic feeder thingy swinging from my sumac!

                  I posted a new thread to see if anyone had specific experience: no response yet.

                  I think I am going to give it a go and just treat the JCB the way I would fava beans...how wrong can it go? if they are nasty, I will still have trofi pasta (hand-rolled), sage and pancetta and hubby and I can pick out the beans!

                  1. re: LJS

                    just saw this, and was wondering, wouldn't fresh jcb cook very similarly to what are often refered to, in new england anyway,as "shell beans"? shell beans are basically dried beans before they've been dried, and in old timey new england cooking they are used a lot like the way southerns use limas....i was well into my twenties before i knew succotash was supposed to be made with lima beans not shell beans!

            3. Can someone recommend an online source for the less common rice in the book?
              There is (page 438) a list, just wondering if anyone has other good suggestions. I'd love to find a "sampler" package of several different types.

              5 Replies
              1. re: blue room

                Hi BR... I found Purcell Mountain Farm. They have many specialty rices, and beans too. If I can't find what I want in my area, I'm going to order from them%3


                  1. re: Gio

                    I have NO idea where that %3 came from...

                    1. re: Gio

                      Strange. I saw that %3 at the end of at least 3 different posts the other day.

                      1. re: clamscasino

                        It happened to me too -- it has been mentioned in the "Site Talk" thread, so the moderators are aware.

                1. Golden Rice with Shrimp (arroz a banda en paella) p. 333

                  My COTM journey to Spain ends with a bang! We cooked this outdoors on a 16” paella so we could get a nice crust on the bottom (soccarat).

                  Cook minced onion and garlic in oil until soft, then add peeled, chopped tomatoes until very soft. Next, add rice (bomba is what I used) and cook until translucent. Add hot fish stock and saffron and cook until almost done, Then add shrimp (shell on in my case) cook until the color changes and turn over to cook the other side. When rice is almost done pull off the heat and rest a few minutes and serve with alioli.

                  This was a hit at our house. We ate this outside on a beautiful summer night and drank moscatel seco. We are far from the Mediterranean, but I did feel transported, at least for a little while. Simple ingredients with great flavors. The rice is infused with the sweet taste of sea. This is enhanced with the garlickly alioli. The success of the dish is highly dependent upon the stock. With good stock, it’s hard to go wrong.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: BigSal

                    Oh wow! I'm in awe. I do not own a paella pan, but this makes me want to get one. I need more exotic kitchen like I need another proverbial hole in the head.

                    What kind of grill did you cook it on? We have a gas grill. I wonder if it would work?


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I think this could definitely work on a gas grill. It will be perfect for maintaing the temperature. We cooked ours on this propane burner that my husband bought for a deep fried turkey adventure. If you have a shallow cooking vessel, you could use that instead of a paella pan.

                      1. re: BigSal

                        I might just try that, thank you!


                    2. re: BigSal

                      I can't wait to make the paellas. Just bought the pan now I need the Bomba rice... oh and squid ink for Puig's recipe. I've never had that.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Looking forward to reading about your adventures.

                      2. re: BigSal

                        ALL of your seafood posts here inspire impossible happy thoughts. ("...far from the Mediterranean" 'bout says it!) I guess you have made your own stock?

                        1. re: blue room

                          I did make my own stock. It was a combination of fish heads, bones and shrimp shells and heads.

                          1. re: BigSal

                            The Spanish fish stock in the book consists of:
                            bay leaves
                            fish bones and trimmings
                            black peppercorns
                            shrimp shells
                            Spanish onions

                            Is that what you used?

                            1. re: Gio

                              Yes, but no lemon. I think I was out at the time. I did have to add more water because the heads and bones were not covered, so I ended up cooking it a little longer too.

                              1. re: BigSal

                                OK thanks... I think that's what I'll do too.

                      3. Rice Salad, Pg. 347

                        Because we had about two cups of cooked Carolina rice left from the Senegalese lemon chicken dish, we made this refreshing and tasty salad.

                        First we reheated the rice briefly in the MW with 2 Ts of bean broth just to take away the chill. A quarter of a cup of fresh lemon juice is mixed gently into the rice. Add chopped capers, parsley and tomatoes. I augemnted these with a diced cucumber and cilantro. Oilve oil and S & P are added and everything is mixed together. We thought it needed a bit more of a vinegary taste so added about a T of red wine vinegar which did round out the flavor nicely.

                        This serves four as a side dish but I can see the salad being increased with other ingredients to make a full dinner salad. Great for a summer evening.

                        1. Risotto alla Birra, page 344.

                          I feel like we ate dinner at the bar; risotto with beer, and pork with gin!

                          This risotto starts in the regular way, with onions and garlic sauteed in oil, then rice is added and sauteed. Then cream is added, but instead of wine, dark beer goes in next (I used Obsidian Stout). The beer is followed by the usual heated stock. When the rice is finished, parmigiano reggiano is stirred in. The result is a very interesting flavor, not readily identifiable as beer. If I hadn't known, I might have guessed coffee, or maybe mushroom. Mr. Nightshade loved it, wants it to become the house recipe for risotto. But he is the birra drinker in the house. I liked it quite a lot also, but it's not very pretty to look at, just beige. I do think it would be very good plated with sauteed wild mushrooms.

                          I served this with Pork Loin in Cream with Tomatoes, Sage, and Gin from Radically Simple. If you want a look at this dish (or a view of the beige risotto) you can see it here:

                          1. Simple/Festive (sort of) Turkish Pilaf pg. 322

                            Made this, with liberties, the other night to go with some grilled lamb chops. So, the recipe as written calls for rice to be rinsed and soaked (first deviation, I rinsed but didn't soak my rice), meanwhile melt butter in a heavy sauce pan (second deviation I used olive oil) for the festive version add chopped onions and pine nuts to the butter (oil) & sautee (third deviation, used onion, but not pine nuts, I alos skipped the currants), add the dained rice, add stock at a ratio of 1.5 C stock/ 1 C rice, bring to a boil, lower heat cover and steam.

                            The results were fine, but not stellar. This si the first of the rice recipes in this book that I won't repeat. Granted I deviated from the recipe, but my main quibble with the results was that the pilaf was a bit too wet, I'd've prefered it made with my usual pilaf proportion of 1 C rice to 1.3 C stock. That said, being a bit damper than usual, the left-overs stayed moist and were quite nice.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: qianning

                              Simple Turkish Pilaf (page 322)

                              I made a half recipe of this last night to accompany the Silk Road Kebabs on page 295 reviewed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7876.... I used arborio rice. My deviations were to use rendered lamb fat instead of butter and TJ's boxed vegetable stock. I also added some leftover peas that were hanging out in the freezer. I had better results than qianning. In fact, I thought the rice was just perfect. I did soak the rice for half an hour. Wonder if that made a difference? And although qianning doesn't mention it, the recipe calls for you to remove the pan from the heat after 20 minutes, wrap the cover of the pot with a clean tea towel, and let stand for another 20 minutes before serving. I did that as well and was very happy with the results: perfectly fluffy grains of rice, neither too wet nor too dry.