Arroz Caldoso con Habas y Esparragos – Rice with Broad Beans and Asparagus

Spanish rice is a little different from Italian risotto rice. Like risotto rice it is generally cooked in a large amount of flavoured stock (for example in a paella) but the grains stay separate rather than turning creamy.  However, use whatever you have, it will still be a wonderfully delicious dish.

To keep it vegetarian, use water or the stock from cooking the vegetables, otherwise chicken stock will add extra flavour.

And before the recipe, a little word about how we eat our broad beans around here. In the photo you will see about 1 ½ kilos of beans from our veggie patch. Many people here simply top and tail them and then chop them into chunks. Almost nothing is wasted, the pods are eaten too unless they are especially tough. The pods which give the biggest beans are more mature, and are less digestible.

It seems sad to me to throw so much away (although our chickens would be glad of such a sweet and tasty treat). I pod my beans and then finely chop the outer shells which I braise until tender and then add the beans to the dish at a later stage. Sometimes I simmer the beans for a few minutes and then pop them out of their skins, but this is a rare extravagance, although it does add amazing colour.

So, the choice is yours…single pod, double pod or use the shells and beans together…it´s up to you!

Ingredients – For two hungry people as a main course or four as a starter

  • 1 cup of Spanish Paella Rice (or rice of your choice)
  • About 5-6 cups of water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • The braised pods from about 750 grams of broad beans (weight before preparing)
  • The blanched beans from the pods (save the cooking water if you want to keep this vegetarian)
  • About 150g asparagus cut into 1cm pieces. Reserve the tips, blanch them, drain and set aside
  • About 6 mushrooms thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Seasoning
  • Olive oil for frying

Put a few tablespoons of oil in a deep pan or pot and add the garlic, bay leaf, bean pods (if using) and asparagus stalks and fry gently until the garlic is soft. Add the rice and coat it in oil for a minute or two then add 3 cups of the stock.

Bring to the boil and cook on a medium heat until the rice starts to absorb the liquid. Add the rest of the liquid and when the rice is almost cooked add the broad beans and mushrooms. Simmer until the mushrooms are tender, season, discard the bay leaf, cover and remove from the heat. The rice needs to rest for 3-5 minutes. If during the cooking period the rice gets too dry, just add a little more liquid. Typically Arroz Caldoso (which translates as rice with broth) is served more liquid than a paella or risotto and eaten with a spoon – but you decide how you like it.

Finally, stir in the asparagus tips and serve with some fresh lemon to squeeze over.

We ate ours with the leftover pork belly which I cut into slices and dry fried to remove the fat, to heat it through and to allow it to crisp up.