Paella is, without a doubt, the best-known Spanish rice dish outside of Spain. If you are Spanish, though, or have spent any time in Spain, you know there are many other delicious rice dishes worthy of exploring. And one of them is Creamy Spanish Rice With Chickpeas, or Arroz Meloso con Garbanzo.
Arroz meloso has a lot in common with paella. Both have a million variations. And both usually start by sautéing vegetables, typically with meat, poultry and/or seafood, before adding rice, water and/or broth and cooking until the rice is al dente.
Paella ends with all the liquid being absorbed into the rice, leaving each grain distinctly separate. Arroz meloso is more like a risotto, with just enough liquid to give it a comforting creaminess.
In both dishes, rice is the star of the show. Usually that rice is one of two Spanish short-grain varieties, Bomba or Calasparra, known for their ability to absorb a lot of water without breaking down and becoming sticky.
Bomba rice is the easiest to find in the United States. While it is sometimes carried in the rice section of a grocery store, it's more often found in specialty food shops and, of course, online. But because arroz meloso is similar to risotto, you can also use Arborio rice, which is widely available.
Today's recipe is vegetarian, but you could add Spanish chorizo or shrimp toward the end of the cooking process. I like to serve this as a main course, with a crisp green salad, crusty bread and a glass of Spanish wine.
Creamy Spanish Rice With Chickpeas (Arroz Meloso con Garbanzos)
Note: Bomba, a short-grained Spanish rice, is this star of this comforting dish. It's easy to find online or in specialty food shops, but because this dish is similar to risotto, you can also use Arborio rice. From Meredith Deeds.
• 4 c. vegetable broth
• 2 c. water
• 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 medium onion, finely chopped
• 1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 1 1/2 tsp. sweet smoked Spanish paprika
• 1 medium tomato, chopped
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1 1/2 c. Bomba or Arborio rice
• 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, undrained
In a medium saucepan, combine the vegetable broth and water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the saffron. Reduce heat to low and keep at a bare simmer.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and smoked paprika and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato and salt and continue to cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the tomato has broken down.
Add the hot broth mixture and bring to a boil. Add the rice and chickpeas (with their liquid) and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, adding a little more hot water if necessary, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is al dente and surrounded by a creamy, not too thick, liquid. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at @meredithdeeds.