Saffron Rice

This is a simple, and a little bit fancy side dish that goes great with a piece of grilled meat, or fish. It's a riff on risotto, but is way less labor-intensive.


  • 1 cup arborio rice (risotto rice)
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 1 decent pinch of saffron threads (the fancy part)
  • 1 roma tomato grated (see below)
  • 1/2 yellow onion small diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1-2 TBspn fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt to taste


  1. Pour the chicken stock in a medium saucepan. Add a good pinch of saffron threads and start to bring to a simmer.
  2. Cut the tomato in half and grate over a bowl on the large holes of a box grater. Grate the pulpy part of the tomato until you get down to the skin and discard. Be careful and watch your knuckles! Note: This step isn’t 100% necessary, you could just finely chop the tomato, but it makes for a more delicate and smooth final product.
  3. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion, garlic, and grated tomato to the pan. Sauté the tomato, garlic, and onion mixture for 8-10 minutes until it starts to turn a dark reddish brown color. What we are doing here is make a variant of what is called sofrito. It’s basically a really rich flavor base for our rice. It’s pretty standard in a lot of Spanish cooking.
  4. Add the rice and combine well with the sofrito. Continue cooking for about five more minutes, letting the rice combine with the sofrito and get a little toasty.
  5. Add about a 1/2 cup of the simmering chicken stock/saffron mixture to the rice pan and stir really well. Continue string until the chicken stock is mostly evaporated, about two or three minutes. Here is the nod to the risotto method. This will give the rice a little jump-start on cooking and infuse some nice flavor. Add the remaining chicken stock and and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  6. When the rice is done it will be a little chewy, this is a good thing. Taste for seasoning. Add the chopped parsley and salt to to taste, and stir to combine.

Serving Tips

Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and serve on the side of a grilled pork chop, or piece of broiled white fish. You could also just eat a big plate full with a simple salad for a light summertime dinner.