Arroz con Azafrán (rice with saffron) is an attractive and versatile side dish suitable that adds a little bit of class to any number of meals. This particular version is adapted from Buen Provecho, a 1995 cookbook compiled by HISPA, which – at the time – was an employee group for Hispanic AT&T employees. HISPA operates today as an independent non-profit, focused on advancing STEM achievement among Hispanic high school students through role modeling and special programs.
This particular brand of saffron rice should not be confused with the more elaborate basmati-based presentations in Persian or Indian cuisine, with delicious crispy bits and colorful toppings. This is a muted side meant to accentuate the entreé, not to be the centerpiece of the meal. Preparation is straightforward: onions are sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil. Rice is added to the mix, lightly toasted, then simmered in salted water until soft. The only seasoning is salt and. a few strands of saffron, which lends a light floral quality and a pleasant yellow color to the dish.
The strength of Arroz con Azafrán is its versatility and ability to elevate any dish it’s served with. In our home this is a go-to side for a family favorite Milk Street recipe for Spanish pork tenderloin, or half of the traditional rice-and-beans duo when serving . It will also pair well with kabobs or Mediterranean food, maybe sprinkled with pine nuts and sumac. Enjoy!
- Heat oil over medium heat. Saute onions for a few minutes until they are translucent and start to give off their liquid, then add rice and saute for a few minutes more.
- Add boiling water, salt, and saffron threads. Stir until mixture takes on a uniform color, then cover and reduce heat.
- Simmer 20 minutes (no peeking). Layer roasted red peppers on top and serve.