daring cooks: spanish rice with allioli

i’m late with my daring cooks challenge this month but, given we were tasked by olga of olga’s recipes to make a spanish recipe - rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes - i got organised and got cooking.

i adapted the recipe to use the prawns i had in the freezer instead of cuttlefish and added a handful of peas to boost the vegetable content. i also took a shortcut by using marinaded artichokes from the deli. however, i did make the suggested catalan accompaniment of allioli using the traditional pestle and mortar method.

so, how did i get on?

rice – to start the dish you make a sofregit which is a slow cooked mix of onions, tomatoes, peppers and mushrooms. this provides the depth of flavour which you assocate with paella and other spanish rice dishes and while it is not difficult to make it is important you allow plenty of time for the vegetables to slowly cook and the flavours intermingle. assembling the rice dish itself is easy enough, you just have to remember not to stir!

allioli – the recipe below doesn’t give quantities for anything other than the garlic so it’s all about instinct. and arm power – pestling (is that a word?!?) the garlic, salt and oil together to get a texture similar to mayonnaise takes a good 15 minutes of effort so line yourself up with a helper so you can take turns.

the final verdict:

  • would i have tried this recipe if it hadn't been part of the daring cooks challenge? yes – i have several spanish cookbooks and have made rice dishes from them in the past. allioli has never really appealed either as i tend to think of it as a garlicky mayonnaise and i’m not a big mayo fan.
  • would i try this recipe again in the future? yes. the allioli was the star of this dish – it tastes absolutely amazing (i licked the mortar, pestle and serving bowls clean!) and really lifts the rice to a new level. the rice is a good basic recipe as the sofregito has a wonderfully authentic flavour.

josé andrés rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes (serves 4):

4 artichokes, cleaned and cut into bitesize pieces (abby note- i used roasted artichokes from the deli)

12 mushrooms, quartered (abby note - i used chestnut)

1 or 2 bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)

1 glass of white wine

2 cuttlefish, cut into strips (abby note – i used raw prawns)

sofregit - see recipe below

300g spanish short grain rice (abby note – i used calasparra

water or fish stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)

a pinch of saffron threads

allioli – see recipe below

put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the cuttlefish, mushrooms, artichokes and the bay leaf (abby note - given my substitutions i just added the mushrooms and bay leaf at this stage). sauté until the srtichokes start to turn a golden colour. add the white wine, simmer and stir to release the solids on the bottom of the pan.

add a two or three tablespoons of sofregit (abby note – i used all of the sofregit) and mix so that everything gets impregnated with the sofregit. add the stock and bring it to a boil and let it bubble away for 5 minutes. add the rice and saffron (abby note – this is when i added the peas, stir and simmer over a low heat until the rice is cooked. (abby note - just before the rice was ready, i added the prawns and artichokes, pushing them down into the rice slightly and then covered the pan for the final few minutes). remove from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes.


2 tablespoons of olive oil

5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

2 small onions, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 cup of button or portobello mushrooms, chopped

1 bay leaf


pinch of ground cumin

pinch of dried oregano

heat the oil, add all the ingredients sauté over a low heat until all vegetables are soft. add salt if necessary.

allioli - traditional recipe

4 garlic cloves, peeled

pinch of salt

fresh lemon juice - a few drops

extra virgin olive oil

place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt. using a pestle, smash the garlic into a smooth paste. add the lemon juice and, dop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle (i added half a teaspoon at a time and only added more when the oil and garlic no longer looked separate and the oil was absorbed into the garlic paste). keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. if your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. this takes time - around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar - to create a dense, rich sauce.