Rice dishes are my absolute favorite foods to cook and eat! There are so many ways to prepare rice that can take it from boring side dish to spectacular centerpiece. One rice recipe that I’m particularly obsessed with is cava rice.
Cava rice is a Spanish rice dish that uses cava, a sparkling wine, to give it a unique depth of flavor. The cava adds a tanginess that complements the other ingredients perfectly. Saffron is also used to give the rice a vibrant yellow color and exotic aroma. Cava rice is so much more than just plain white rice.
It’s elegant enough to serve at a dinner party but easy enough to whip up any night of the week. I love pairing it with seafood, chicken or steak. The complex flavors of this rice dish will seriously impress your family or guests!
- 3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup short grain white rice (like Arborio or Valencia)
- 1/3 cup cava or other dry sparkling white wine
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Tools You’ll Need
- Medium pot with lid – A 2 quart pot with a tight fitting lid works best. Make sure it’s deep enough to cook 1 cup of rice without boiling over.
- Wooden spoon – For stirring the rice frequently while cooking. Metal could damage the pot’s surface.
- Measuring cups and spoons – It’s important to accurately measure the broth and rice.
- Knife and cutting board – Any decent chef’s knife will do for chopping the onion. Make sure your board is large enough for comfortable chopping.
- Zester or grater – For getting lots of bright lemon zest. A microplane grater works wonderfully.
- Juicer – Either a hand squeezed or electric citrus juicer will work for juicing the lemon.
- Mixing bowl – For blooming the saffron and also mixing at the end.
Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions
Now that we’ve got our ingredients and tools ready, let’s go step-by-step through how to make this flavorful cava rice:
- Bloom the saffron:
First up, we need to bloom the saffron threads to intensify their flavor and color. Place the threads in a small bowl. Heat 1/4 cup of the broth until very hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot broth over the saffron. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes to fully bloom.
- Cook the onion:
While the saffron blooms, heat the olive oil in the medium pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent. This mellows the onion’s sharpness.
- Toast the rice:
Next, add the dry rice to the pot with the onion. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat each grain with oil. This helps toast and lightly brown the rice, adding nutty flavor.
- Deglaze with cava:
Time to deglaze the pot with the cava! Pour the wine into the pot, increase heat to medium-high and let the cava bubble vigorously for 2-3 minutes. This will allow the alcohol to cook off while the wine aromas infuse into the rice.
- Add paprika and season:
Once the cava has reduced a bit, stir in the smoked paprika. The sweet smokiness adds another layer of flavor. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. I prefer to add just a little salt now so I can better adjust once the broth is added.
- Pour in broth and saffron:
Now, pour in the remaining 3 cups hot broth and the saffron threads with their soaking liquid. The saffron will tint the whole dish a marvelous golden yellow.
- Simmer until al dente:
Increase heat to high and bring the pot to a boil. Then lower heat to low, cover the pot with the lid, and let it gently simmer. Cook for 15 to 18 minutes. You want the rice to become just al dente, meaning it has a slight firmness when biting a grain.
- Rest the rice:
After simmer time is up, turn off the heat but do not uncover. Let the pot sit for 5 minutes. This allows the rice to finish steaming and absorb any remaining liquid.
- Fluff, mix and serve:
Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. This helps separate any clumped grains. Stir in the lemon juice and zest. I love the brightness they add!
Finally, mix in the chopped parsley. Taste a bite and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Your spectacular cava rice is ready to enjoy! I suggest serving it immediately while hot.
Extra Tips and Advice
- Use a short grain Spanish rice like Arborio or Valencia. Long grain won’t achieve the creamy texture.
- Make sure your pot has a tight fitting lid for the simmering step. This traps in steam.
- When adding broth, pour it around the inner perimeter rather than directly on the rice. This prevents clumping.
- Stir frequently while simmering to prevent the bottom from scorching.
- Check doneness after 15 minutes. Everyone’s stove heats differently.
- If the rice isn’t done, simmer 3-5 more minutes until al dente, checking frequently.
- For safety, only reheat leftover rice once. Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
I hope these detailed steps take the mystery out of making this delicious Spanish rice dish!
This versatile cava rice pairs well with all kinds of entrees. Here are some of my favorite serving suggestions:
- For a taste of the sea, serve it alongside scallops or shrimp sauteed with lemon and garlic.
- Complement simply prepared chicken or fish fillets. The rice provides plenty of flavor.
- For a vegetarian meal, serve it with sautéed mushrooms, peppers and chickpeas.
- Use it as the base of a rice bowl topped with fried egg, avocado and hot sauce.
Leftovers and Storing Tips
Cava rice leftovers can be kept for up to 4 days refrigerated. Here are some tips for storing and reheating:
- Let rice cool at least 30 minutes before transferring to an airtight container for the fridge. This prevents condensation.
- For the best texture, reheat leftover rice with a little liquid like broth or water. This prevents dryness.
- Use the microwave or stove top to reheat. Put rice in a bowl with a splash of liquid. Cover and cook in 30 second intervals until hot.
- Reheated rice is also delicious fried up into crispy rice cakes! Just form into patties and fry in olive oil 2-3 minutes per side.
- To freeze, portion cooled rice into bags or containers leaving 1 inch at the top. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
I like to meal prep portions for quick lunches! A squeeze of lime or lemon brightens up refrigerated rice.
Cava Rice Recipe
Indulge in a Mediterranean delight with our Cava Rice recipe—stovetop magic creating a flavorful, saffron-infused dish in just 40 minutes. Elevate your dining experience effortlessly!
Tools You’ll Need
- Place saffron threads in a small bowl. Heat 1/4 cup of broth until very hot, but not boiling. Pour the hot broth over the saffron. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes to fully bloom.
- Heat olive oil in the medium pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion. Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and translucent. This mellows the onion’s sharpness.
- Add dry rice to the pot with the onion. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly to coat each grain with oil. This helps toast and lightly brown the rice, adding nutty flavor.
- Pour the cava into the pot, increase heat to medium-high, and let it bubble vigorously for 2-3 minutes. This cooks off the alcohol while infusing wine aromas into the rice.
- Stir in smoked paprika once the cava has reduced a bit. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. A little salt now allows for better adjustment later.
- Pour in the remaining 3 cups hot broth and saffron threads with their soaking liquid. The saffron will tint the dish a marvelous golden yellow.
- Increase heat to high, bring the pot to a boil, then lower heat to low, cover with the lid, and let it simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Aim for the rice to be just al dente.
- Turn off the heat but do not uncover. Let the pot sit for 5 minutes, allowing the rice to finish steaming and absorb any remaining liquid.
- Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork to separate clumped grains. Stir in lemon juice and zest for brightness. Finally, mix in chopped parsley. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Your spectacular cava rice is ready to shine! Serve it hot for the full experience.
Can I make this recipe gluten free?
Yes! Just use gluten-free broth and soy sauce substitutes like tamari.
Can I prepare the rice ahead of time?
Absolutely. Cook up to 2 days in advance and gently reheat with broth.
What if I don’t have cava or white wine?
Dry vermouth or even apple cider vinegar work in a pinch! Or just use more broth.
Can I use brown or wild rice instead?
I’d suggest short grain brown rice, increasing cooking time. Wild rice has a very different flavor and texture.
How do I know if the rice is done?
Carefully taste a grain after 15 minutes. It should be just slightly firm, not mushy.
Cava rice is the ultimate rice dish to add to your repertoire. The complexity of flavors from the saffron, smoked paprika and cava wine elevate it far beyond a basic side. I love how the tangy sparkle of the cava contrasts with the earthy paprika and exotic saffron. This Spanish-inspired dish is elegant yet easy enough for any weeknight.
Following the simple steps of blooming the saffron, toasting the rice, simmering until perfectly al dente and finishing with lemon and parsley results in rice that is bursting with flavor. While short grain white rices like Arborio are ideal, you can experiment with substitutions like short grain brown. Just adjust cooking time. Cava rice pairs so well with all kinds of main dishes from seafood to chicken to vegetarian. Leftovers also hold up wonderfully for quick lunches. For an impressive rice that will have everyone begging for seconds, look no further than this cava rice recipe.
I hope you enjoy this taste of Spain as much as I do! Let me know if you have any other questions & follow us on Pinterest.