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Pebbled Rice - Arroz Empedrat

Pebbled Rice

This dry rice dish, found mainly in Castellón province, may be made with white beans or chickpeas. Flavorings vary: chips of chorizo may replace the salt-cod, while in Calasparra they add fresh tomato and green garlic. You always have the whole head of garlic, nicknamed the partridge, in the center, from which you can suck out the nutty flesh if you want. Ideally, the depth of the rice should be little more than that of a paella. This recipe comes from El Plat, a Valencian restaurant with over 400 rice recipes.

Makes 4 servings.

Prep Time: 20 min.

Cook Time: 2 hr.

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1 - 3/4 cups short-grained rice such as Bomba or Calasparra or other rice from Spain
5 oz dried white haricot beans, soaked for 12 hours in 1 - 1/2 quart cold water
1 head of unskinned garlic, wiped clean
2 cloves of garlic, skinned and chopped
4 oz tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp mild pimentón de la Vera, (smoked Spanish paprika)

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Cook the beans with the soaking water and the head of garlic until soft (a pressure cooker considerably reduces the time). Towards the end of the cooking time, add a few strands of saffron and salt. Reserve the cooking liquid. Chop the garlic cloves and the tomato. Heat the oil in a frying pan, sauté the garlic, then the tomato and, right at the end, the pimentón.

When you're ready to eat, pour a liter of the bean stock into a wide-bottomed flame-proof casserole that will take the rice and beans. Check the seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Bring to a boil, add the rice--making sure it is evenly spread--and cook uncovered over medium heat, at a rolling boil, for 10 minutes. Add the beans and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes more, until the rice is done. Serve onto warm plates, and leave to rest for a minute of two.

Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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