Gabriel’s school had an intercultural event and I thought arroz verde would be a perfect dish to make. Arroz verde is a typical Peruvian dish that is eaten as a side dish or as a second plate with something else. I can imagine few dishes as second plates in contemporary home life, although if you go to Lima today arroz verde is served as a second dish in the traditional sense of the word.
My mother makes arroz verde with a third spinach rather than all cilantro. It’s an option. But I love the taste of cilantro so the stronger taste the better. My grandparents served arroz verde (as a second plate) and I was always amazed by the color of the cilantro and its particularly sweet and sour smell. Interesting that cilantro is not one of those herbs that you can cook and get a familiar flavor from what you smell or taste from the raw ingredient. What I mean is that you have to use a lot of cilantro to cook with or the flavor will be weak and a tinge sour, and not in a pleasant way. If you use even a bit of cilantro raw the integrity of the flavor is preserved. With arroz verde in particular use full bunches of cilantro and season it with cumin, garlic and onions as the recipe calls for so that the flavors meld together and form a unique sabor while they cook.
I thought about adapting the recipe and making arroz verde with brown rice, but it really would not come out the same. Typically arroz verde is made with regular white rice. Basmati rice has a fragrance that I thought would go well with the spiciness of the cilantro so I took the risk. Thank goodness it worked since there was not much time from when I went to buy the ingredients to flying back to the house and cook. The arroz verde was literally ready five minutes before we left the house for the school event. John LOVES this rice so he was spooning mouthfuls as I was trying to get it in the portable dish. I slapped his hand and off we went to see Gabriel do the Australian dance with the rest of his mates.
Our camera and video were ready to go when Gabriel stepped out in his little costume. Unfortunately, thumb was in mouth and he took one look at mama and daddy, cried, and ran over to watch the show with us. Oh well. At least he looked super cute in his costume and we look forward to next year’s event when Gabriel will be three!
- 3 cups of uncooked rice
- 2 medium onions diced
- 3 large bunches of cilantro washed and with stems cut from the bottom
- 6 garlic cloves peeled (dice 3 cloves for the pot)
- 1 cup of peas
- 3 teaspoons of cumin
- 5 tablespoons of olive oil plus more
- salt and pepper to taste
- Liquify cilantro, 1 of the diced onions and 3 garlic cloves in one cup of water
- Sautee remaining onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until translucent in a medium sized stock pot
- Add remaining garlic and whisk until soft over medium to low heat
- Whisk in cumin
- Add rice and stir around for 2 minutes
- Add 4¼ cups of water and liquified cilantro mixture and bring to a boil
- Cover, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes
- Add peas on top of rice without disturbing and cook for another 10 minutes covered
- Turn heat off and let rice sit covered for another 10 minutes
- Fluff rice and mix peas in while making sure green color covers all of rice
- Add salt and pepper to taste and remaining olive oil (add more olive oil if needed to overcome any dryness~rice should be a bit shiny)