Simple recipe for brown rice seasoned with saffron and smoked paprika. Vegan and gluten-free.
My Dad has never lacked enthusiasm when it comes to food. He has always been happy, excited and thrilled to eat anything and everything. He loves greasy concession stand fare at an amusement park, scrapple at a Pennsylvania truck stop, werst after werst on our family trip to Germany, big salads for lunch, sautéed farm stand peppers and exquisitely prepared quail at Eleven Madison Park. He loves it all. I am sure a large part of what shaped me as a foodie has a lot to do with his enthusiasm for food.
The other part of that equation was my mom’s cooking. Growing up, my mom did all the cooking. She made us gourmet meals totally from scratch every single night. And my Dad was always so appreciative of everything she cooked. Second helpings? Of course! Most nights, he could be seen eating the left-over salad straight from the salad bowl with a fork at the end of a meal. “This is delicious!” he would declare as he forecfully speared his fork into the bowl again and again, salad dressing spraying from his grin.
When I was a teen, my parents split. I spent time with both parents. When I was at Mom’s we’d live and eat large. When we were at Dad’s. Well… for a minute there we all were afraid that my Dad wouldn’t survive without my mom’s cooking. Would he shrink away to skin and bones without my Mom’s Choucroute garnie? Would he stock up on hotdogs, corned beef hash, and eggs?
My fears were quickly dashed when my dad, Mr. Magoo-like in his forward blundering enthusiasm, headed into the kitchen with spatulas blazing.
What he lacked in cooking skills he made up for in ambition. What any normal newly divorced non-cooking dude would muster up for dinner was not on Dad’s radar screen. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to get by on cans of Big N Chunky soup. My dad went straight for the most gourmet complicated meals he was used to. His tastes for expertly prepared food possibly set his own goals a bit loftier than they should have been.
I’ll never forget the time that he decided to make Paella. I had seen my mom make it in the big primary colored paella pan, the bottle of saffron, the perfect rice. I’d seen it countless times, and I offered to help.
We worked together in the kitchen, trying to piece together my mom’s technique. Okay, so first I’m pretty sure she sautéed the onions and garlic. Then she added the spices. Saffron for sure and the rice of course. Then broth right? It would go into the oven. My dad, happily diced and sautéed sausage. Added some bone-in chicken. I know there was always peas, he said…. Things got a little confusing.
Why we didn’t consult a recipe I’ll never know. How did it go again? At some point, I knew things had gotten out of control when I looked into the oven, and my dad had snuck some pickle spears onto the top of the rice. Okay this is going to be ugly.
And it was ugly indeed. It some how got incredibly spicy. I think we must have used spicy paprika by mistake. And the chicken wasn’t all the way cooked. We both got sick for days.
Even still, that time, of discovering cooking in the kitchen with my dad, becoming independent myself in cooking, without my mom to cook for us every night… it always makes me smile. I look back on it with joy. And we always laugh about those pickles. Which by the way, he denies ever adding. (He totally did it I swear!)
Gradually, he learned though. So did I. When I got my license, I’d do the grocery shopping, and we’d cook together. I was at an advantage, having cooked with my mom, side by side for years. I had as much confidence as my Dad, but at least I knew not to add pickle spears to Paella.
I am so glad my Dad never let his goofs and blunders get him down. In no time, he developed a masterful way of organizing a shopping list, that I still use to this day. He fully embraced all things that could be grilled. He always burned the heck out of it. Onward he went though. He developed some strange but actually delicious signature techniques, like his enormous salads and a garlicky spicy pan sautéed green bean thing that I have to make for you some time. He still cooks every night, even though he is remarried and his wife is an awesome cook herself. He loves to have us over for dinner, and is so proud of his salads. They too are a bit strange (he puts a ton of finely chopped celery in them for some reason…) But I love them. And him.
Every time I use saffron in rice I think of my dad. I can’t help it. I have been making this recipe for a few weeks over and over. I just love these flavors. They are comfort to me. And they are joy in the kitchen for me.
Simple recipe for brown rice cooked with smoked paprika and saffron. Vegan and gluten-free.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small sweet or red onion
- 1 teaspoon loosely packed saffron threads, ½ g
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup brown rice
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth, such as imagine no-chicken
- ¾ cup chopped parsley
- 1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant and just starting to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add onion, stir to coat. Cook, stirring often until the onion is starting to brown and soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
- 2. Add saffron, thyme, smoked paprika and salt and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in broth and increase heat to high. Stir thoroughly to make sure saffron threads are evenly distributed, and bring to a simmer. Add rice, and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low or low to maintain a simmer, and cook until the broth has been absorbed and the rice is very tender, 50 to 60 minutes. Remover from the heat and stir in parsley.
- Serving Size: 1 1/4 cup each for an entree serving. 2/3 cup for
- Calories: 164
- Sugar: 5 g
- Sodium: 963 mg
- Fat: 8 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 21 g
- Fiber: 2 g
- Protein: 3 g