Regardless of the 40 degree weather here in Chicago, the grass is still transitioning to a beautiful emerald hue. I really love this tiny window of time every year where the grass is almost glowing, it’s so gorgeously green– the time just before the dandelions have their rein, spraying the grass with endless yellow polka dots. I just want to get in a car and drive down a road somewhere with rolling hills of grass and stare out the window for an hour straight. The green really does something to my brain. It’s telling me that winter is over. Yessssss….
This is the absolute perfect time for green rice. Uh huh, you got it, more green. A traditional Mexican dish, arroz verde is usually made of chopped green chiles and green herbs. This recipe right here has a bit of poblano, cilantro, and lime zest. Oh yeah, did I mention it also has asparagus? Soooo Springy!
A great thing about the asparagus in this recipe is that it is blanched before adding it to the rice. This means that a) It is less likely to get overcooked by simmering those poor little spears with the rice for 15 minutes b) The asparagus will retain its bright green color instead of that overcooked army green. Cooking green veggies in uncovered boiling water, then dunking them in an ice cold bath stops the cooking process and ensures that they will stay grassy green, even if you want to cook them again. Nifty, huh? Gotta love blanching.
This recipe is also perfect for veggie sneakers. No, these aren’t shoes that vegetables wear (har, har, har)– they’re people who are always finding ways to hide more healthy ingredients in their meals. The finely chopped herbs and chiles are nicely concealed in this rice. Yes, the asparagus is right out there in the open, but hey– asparagus is good for you! Eat it! You could easily throw in a handful of spinach into the food processor along with the other ingredients for even more incognito veggie action.
Too little time? Try this hack! If you’re looking for a quick shortcut for this recipe, you could switch out the poblano, cilantro, and garlic for 3 tablespoons of jarred recaito. This is a delicious mixture of chopped cilantro, chiles, onions, and garlic. It’s a super flavorful staple for Puerto Rican cooking. I love it because you can find it already jarred next to the Mexican ingredients at your local big box store. I also love adding it to homemade chicken soup to keep things fresh. If you do choose to use the recaito in your recipe, please do not forget the lime zest. It compliments the asparagus perfectly and lightens the whole dish up. You’ll need it, pinky promise
What are your favorite Spring dishes? Does anyone else go green crazy this time of year? We wanna hear your stories! Until next time.
- ½ pound asparagus spears, ends trimmed, then cut into 1½-inch long pieces
- ½ poblano chile, seeds removed
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- 2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
- 1 cup long grain rice
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- salt to taste
- Place a large pot of water over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- While the water is coming to a boil, place the poblano, cilantro, garlic, and lime zest in a small food processor and blend until finely chopped. Set aside.
- Place a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter followed by the rice and cook until the rice grains turn white and opaque, about 4 minutes. Add the broth followed by the chopped green mix to the rice.
- Season with enough salt for the broth to taste slightly too salty. This will ensure there is enough salt for the broth and the rice. Cover and cook the rice for 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, blanch the asparagus. Add the asparagus pieces to the boiling water and cook uncovered until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the asparagus, then transfer to the ice water. Allow the asparagus to cool completely, then drain and set aside.
- After the 15 minutes of cooking the rice is completed, add the blanched asparagus, remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes more. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.