Green Rice with Smoked Paprika Recipe

The green rice recipe that got away from me - lots of spring produce, finished with smoked paprika and toasted pine nuts.

Green Rice with Smoked Paprika

This is the green rice recipe that got away from me. It was the last thing I cooked before leaving for New York, and I intended to keep it simple. There was some arugula to use up, and a good amount of cooked brown rice. Oh, and some peas. And a nub of Gruyere. That mint isn't going to last....You see where this is headed? Anyway, I made some green rice, perfectly good, but probably not something I'd bother posting about. Then I added a couple finishing touches, and it turned this into something I was quite excited about, something I'd absolutely make again - so I thought I'd share.

Green Rice RecipeGreen Rice Recipe

The finishing touches? Smoked paprika and toasted pine nuts. Doesn't sound particularly special, right? But it was one of those things. Remarkably good. I've been on a bit of a smoked paprika kick lately, using it instead of chili peppers, or curry powders, and the like. I thought it'd add some depth and flair here. And it did. The paprika brings a smoked-out boldness that works brilliantly with the creaminess of the pine nuts and the spicy edge of the arugula. I don't want to completely oversell this, but I thought the flavors came together in a really nice way.

Green Rice RecipeGreen Rice Recipe

I could imagine making a smoked paprika oil and using it as a drizzle in place of the ground spice, or taking the whole thing in a different direction entirely - using any leftover spicy lemon coconut sauce you might have in place of the arugula butter, and still finishing it off with the paprika and pine nuts...

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Green Rice with Smoked Paprika

2 cups / 14 oz / 400 g brown rice
3 cups / 710 ml water
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

1 big handful peas (fresh or frozen)
3+ tablespoons arugula-shallot butter*
1 big handful chopped arugula
12 mint leaves, torn
a big handful grated melty cheese (i.e. Gruyere)

a generous dusting of smoked paprika
big handful well-toasted pine nuts (or almonds)
lemon wedges

In a colander or fine-mesh strainer, rinse the rice and drain. Bring the rice, water, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat in your thickest-bottomed pot. Dial the heat back so the water is just simmering actively - low-med. Cover with tight fitting lid, and try not to peek too often. Cook the rice until the water has been absorbed and the grains are cooked through, usually 40 minutes to an hour. If the grains have cooked but there's still water to be absorbed, dial the heat up to medium-high until the pan dries out, being careful not to scorch the rice at the bottom. Remove the rice from heat, fluff with a fork, and then stir in the peas. Cover for another five minutes or, long enough for the peas to cook a bit from the residual heat.

The consistency of the rice is important here - you don't want it too wet. Too dry is no good either. If you need to work in a bit more water, go for it. Then stir in a big dollop of arugula butter, I start with about 3 tablespoons, and add from there. Stir in the arugula, mint, and cheese. Season with more salt if needed.

Serve topped with a generous dusting of smoked paprika, plenty of nuts, and a squeeze of lemon juice if you like.

Serves 6 as a side.

*Arugula Shallot Butter: To make this compound butter puree 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, a big handful of arugula, 1 medium shallot (peeled), and a couple pinches of salt in a processor for at least 30 seconds - until it is no longer chunky. Add a pinch of sugar or spoonful of honey if you need to balance out the flavor a bit.

Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 40 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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The statement that “necessity is the mother of invention” really is true with cooking. Some of my recipes are using ingredients that I need to use. Your recipe sounds terrific.

Karen (Back Road Journal)

I love your photos! I’m not a big fan of green foods, but this is something I’m going to try, especially as I have a big jar of smoked paprika I just bought. Smoked paprika oil sounds divine!

Mel S.

Heidi, your website is one of my favorites and this recipe is delicious. I´m vegan so I replace the cheese with two teaspoons of nutritional yeast and it work pretty well.


I don’t say this lightly, because I love everything I have made on 101cookbooks and in Super Natural Everyday but….this is hands down my favorite Heidi Swanson recipe. It is perfection. Will be on repeat in my kitchen!


this sounds delicious! we are pretty obsessed with smoked paprika, we find so many ways to add it to our dishes lol

Jenn and Seth (@HomeSkilletCook)

That looks yummy! 🙂

idiosyncratic eye

This recipe sounds absolutely delicious! I will be making it soon. Thanks for sharing Heidi.

Shelley Alexander

This recipe inspired a pasta dish. I had fresh buckwheat noodles on hand so I used them instead of the rice, tossing them with the other ingredients. I substituted chopped sugar snap peas for the English peas, because that’s what I found at the farmers’ market. And I took a short cut with the compound butter, sauteeing the shallot in butter and throwing an extra handful of arugula into the mix. It was wonderful.


Smoked paprika oil sounds like a nice touch. Thanks for the post. I love when a un-planned plan comes together!

Tv Food and Drink

Smoked paprika is perfect for vegetarian or non-pork cooking because it lends that smokiness without meat. Love it!

Lisa | Dust with Flour

This looks beautiful and the arugula-shallot butter is just too delicious not to try!!

kelley {mountainmamacooks}

Green Rice with……….caught my attention.

Vanessa McClary

Mmmmm! I can totally see how this would be a good combo! And I love gruyere cheese, but for some reason I don’t end up buying it often. It reminds me of home b/c in Argentina it’s commonly used in dishes. And I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but I’m in love with your kitchen counter 😀

Ellie@Fit for the Soul

I love jazzed up rice dishes- they’re so satisfying to me. This looks terrific!

jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

I love jazzed up rice dishes- they’re so satisfying to me. This looks terrific!

jamie @ green beans & grapefruit

So lovely to see your food processor out. I have two, a small one and a large one, and use them almost daily. A girl’s best friend in the kitchen. I like the ease of this recipe in how you make it and could have it for lunch the next day too, especially as the ingredients are even better as they meld. Thank you thank you for your wonderful site. Visit it all the time. Best to you!


This sounds so wonderfully refreshing and substantial at the same time. Beautiful, too. I can’t wait to try it!


A delicious recipe!


I’ve been into smoked paprika too lately. A couple of weeks ago I realized it was the missing piece in Vegetarian Kale soup – smoked paprika, garlic and salt basically make it taste traditional with no chorizo.
I also used it in a potato gallette – yum!


Oh man! I’ve got to try this! brilliant…


Thank you as always, Heidi. They call arugula -> rocket over here & I’ve never seen Gruyere (piqueing curiosity more; ditto orzo, fava etc). Plan to substitute the humble sunflower seeds for the pine nuts as gave up on them long ago re cost/quality. Though did spy at the organic shop so now inspired to try.


I made this last night, using spinach instead of arugula since that’s what I had on hand, and it was a hit! We shared it at the Syttende Mai parade festivities with friends and everyone, including kids, gobbled it up. Not very Norwegian of us but great picnic food, nonetheless! 😉


Mmm… this might actually make my husband enjoy brown rice. So far i’ve only found one dish that works but this looks and sounds fabulous!


Heidi, First, let me say how much I adore your site – very inspiring! Next, a question (this is off topic, but I wasn’t sure where else to ask): I was looking at your post for tortilla salad and was very excited to make it; however, the link for the dressing leads me to your Magic Sauce recipe. I’m thinking that perhaps that’s not correct…can you let me know the dressing you recommend? Thanks! Gretchen


I love smoked paprika! The idea of making an oil to drizzle is brilliant!

Rocky Mountain Woman

It was a hit for dinner last night, though I just realized that I forgot to add the smoked paprika. Still good – so I’ll make it again and remember the spice. Thank you for a great recipe!


i couldn’t seem to post on a previous banana bread recipe but i wanted to let you know that it was amazing just as everything i’ve tried of yours has been. thanks for all your work here!

christina furr

i couldn’t wait and had to make it last night.. i also served it with a hard-boiled egg.. so much flavor.. absolutely perfect, quick and satisfying meal.. thank you heidi! here’s my dinner plate from last night.

HS: Lovely shot Monika.


I made a similar “clean out the crisper” green rice recently that was much less successful, but you’ve inspired me to revisit it! Thank you.


What yumminess…
You know we my dad makes pea pilaf and after it is done he adds some nuts some herbs … Your rice reminded me of that, specially the enjoying it with a boiled egg…..
B/W last pic is absolutely gorgeous, the flowers, the light, the glass jars…

Reem | Simply Reem

Heidi, I have never enjoyed a food blog as much as I enjoy yours! And I love your cookbooks. Thanks for sharing so many delicious, nutritious, and beautiful recipes.


I came on here to look for something inspiring I could do with pretty much this exact set of ingredients. Excellent! I am off to the kitchen to give this a try. Thank you


Smoked paprika is my go to spice, love it on just about anything. You can find great smoked paprika (both sweet and hot) at the Spice House in Chicago (they ship), along with other great spices.


I just love simple dishes packed with flavour. This looks good and sounds really good too.


Thanks a lot. I just got off of my smoked paprika kick (more like obsession). Looks like I’ll have to make one more recipe with it after all!

Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds)

Thanks a lot. I just got off of my smoked paprika kick (more like obsession). Looks like I’ll have to make one more recipe with it after all!

Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds)

Hey Heidi – I have a tupperware of brown rice just calling out for this recipe, though we have a ton of coriander rather than mint, so we’ll see how that goes.
I really wanted to say that I took my inlaws to Rome for the weekend and insisted on going to Gusto (for aperitivi) – so good, we went back the next day for lunch. Thanks for the recommendation! Next time you’re in Rome, you might want to try Roma Sparita, which is famous for its Cacio e Pepe tagliolini. Rich is not the word – the resto is in a lovely square (Santa Cecilia) in Trastevere, with a great bar/gallery across the way (b>gallery), another great spot for aperitivi. I tried to get to the market in Testaccio, but settled for Campo dei Fiori. Back two days, and already missing Roman Artichokes and Fiori di Zuccha. Must dig out a recipe for the Carciofo in particular. Sorry for such a long post! Thanks again.


This is to Emmycooks: Agridulce means bittersweet.
Your recipe looks wonderful. I should try this weekend. Thanks for posting it!

Montserrat Gomà

I use smoked paprika quite a bit as I like Spanish food but don’t want too much chorizo and other smoked meats, and the vegan versions of these are not particularly healthy. I really like smoked paprika in vegan caldo gallego, and in a butter sauce with capers and samphire to go with roasted hake. And (!) mint and coriander rice is great with an Indian takeaway: tastes great and helps with digestion :D. Lovely recipe and images from you, as always


Oh it is killing me that my internet connection is so slow and terrible that this page has been open for 15 minutes and I still can’t see the gorgeous photos that I know should be there. I like the arugula mint combo. I’m not always the biggest fan of mint, but I think the mellowness of the butter and the peppery bite of the arugula could handle it…


Sorry didn’t mean to be anonymous!


A belated Congrats for your well earned James Beard award for ‘Supernatural Everyday’ Heidi!! It made my heart jump when I was looking through the winners! And a BIG thank YOU for all you do for “us,
everyday!” We appreciate all of it!!


I love “off-the-cuff” food with leftovers – and happy when it becomes a favourite, like this is good enough to reproduce again and again. Love it.


I made a green rice similar to this on Monday evening with some spring veggies I had on-hand. Will definitely try this recipe soon. I love the smoked paprika addition.
And I again made your caramelized tofu with brussel sprouts for dinner tonight. It’s one of my go to’s and is quite comforting.
Thanks for the beautiful recipes and photographs. You make super natural eating easy and beautiful!


Looks and sounds awesome!!!!


If you like smoked paprika, you might also like pul biber (Turkish dried red pepper flakes). I put it on almost everything.

Eva @ 1 Big Bite

So simple and so beautiful; thank you Heidi!

The Healthy Apple

I agree with Tinks, would love to see a vegan version. I love your recipes and look forward to more that I can cook!


Many times when trying to use up ingredients you have on hand is when the best recipes happen. This rice looks really good!.

Martha @ Weekend Doings

this morning I looked through this post and it jogged a memory of the dream I had last night!
we were sitting in your kitchen and i was going on and on and on about how gorgeous the light is in your photos….and I asked you all about the marble….and we just talked about that non stop.
so weird! also this rice looks really good. I can’t wait to make it.
HS: Hi Tracy! Too funny – I think I need to do a post about the marble – I get a lot of emails about it ;)…There are lots of questions about marble countertops apparently…Who knew?


Any recommendations on how to make this dairy free please. Your recipes and photos are gorgeous, am hoping for some more vegan recipes soonl


what a great idea
i have quinoa chalots parsley almonds
and the smoked paprika gives the kick
thanks for inspiration
my best wishes birgit :)))


I’m smitten with your Arugula Butter. I was expecting that lovely green concoction in the processor bowl to be arugula pesto, but in a low-cal meal, why not a compound butter?! This rice looks so good and good for you. I can’t wait to make it. I’ve become disillusioned with my usual brands of brown rice lately. Are there any out there that you’re currently enamored with?

HS: thanks! Let’s see…I like Massa Organics brown rice, and buy an organic brown Japanese sushi rice I like a lot as well (akita komachi)…

Primordial Soup

This rice sounds great. I was very lucky and received your recipe book for Mother’s Day. We have a crazy big cookbook collection here (300+) but I am so happy to finally have one of yours. I’ve made lots of your recipes, but always from your blog in the past. I also wanted to say that the cover under the dust jacket is like a hidden gem. 🙂
HS:Thanks Kathleen!


Perfectly spring! Intrigued by the combination of mint & paprika – yum!

Summer // House&Hold

Perfectly spring! Intrigued by the combination of mint & paprika – yum!

Summer // House&Hold

I’ve been loving your recipes lately–kind of laid back but pretty and seasonal, and you photos have had such a delightfully ethereal light about them. Thanks, it always makes me smile and sigh.


I’ve been craving and eating everything green lately – from avocados to chard. This looks like a great dish to dress up my green food kick (I’ve just been steaming, sauteeing or eating things raw) and I love one-dish rice dinners!


Looks lovely, Heidi! I’m growing mint for the first time this spring and it’s taking off with a capital T. I’ve been using it in cocktails (obvious choice), but truthfully probably wouldn’t have thought to use it in savory grain dishes. Thanks for the inspiration. As always. ~m

Megan Gordon

Waiting for your recipes is like waiting for Christmas Morning! Every time a new one comes up is so exciting and I immediately put the ingredients on my list for the farmers market. Seriously, you never disappoint and if it was not for this blog I might be knocking on your door for something new. I am addicted!

Lauren at The Holy Kale

I keep scrolling back to the top to look at the sunshine and flowers – addictive. The rice looks delicious, love the smoked paprika sparkle. My guy is allergic to peas (bummer!), how about favas in this?

Marissa | Pinch and Swirl

Hey Heidi,
Love the mint and smoked paprika flavor combo..great way to add interest and freshen up peas and rice=very nice.
Plus, the photography is just as delicious!

Kathy Fitz

This rice looks remarkably good indeed! I am running low on greens at the moment, but I will certainly make this when I have leftover arugula and mint.

Cookie and Kate

This recipe couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I literally have a bunch of mint that is just on the verge of collapse in my fridge! Also, may I just say that those peonies are gorgeous! They are absolutely my favorite flowers……..

Noelle @ GreenLemonade

emmycooks: agridulce is a moderately spicy version of smoked paprika.
Heidi, thanks for another fresh, colorful dish!


Anything with smoked paprika has to be at least pretty decent. I love that spice, my boyfriend accuses me of using it anywhere and everywhere!

leaf (the indolent cook)

Love this! Makes me love brown rice far better – that nub of gruyere…nice.

Belinda @zomppa

I can only imagine how tasty that smoked paprika oil would be if it existed. Someone needs to create this!…and drizzle it all over this rice 🙂

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

This looks delicious! I love smoked paprika, but haven’t used it as a finishing touch. I will make this for my family this week. Thanks, Heidi.

Carline @ Cook with 2 Chicks

Oh this is definitely something we would love in our home!

Simply Life

Hi Heidi. That last picture is my favorite. This post is worthy of a magazine layout. Gorgeous flowers and a beautifully displayed meal. It looks like there’s a hard boiled egg you served it with. Question- where do you get those small glass jars? Are they jam jars? I’ve been looking for ones about that size. Thanks!

HS: Thank you! And yes, they are – just common jam jars. I use these, and then buy the Weck variety on occasion as well.


Paprika has crept up on me recently and I realised that I’ve been adding it to almost everything. I love the depth of flavour and the kick of smoky heat that it adds. Excited to try this!


This looks great! I’ve been making a riff on a green rice recipe for years which is originally a Bobby Flay recipe. It uses roasted (or bbq’d) jalapenos which are skinned and seeded, then pureed with vegetable broth. I caramelize onions and garlic, and then add brown rice and this jalapeno broth. At the end a good amount of chopped cilantro is stirred in. Yum!


Wow..what flavors the rice bowl packs.
We love such one pot meals with rice, in fact a way life for busy working mothers in India. It’s always nice to find such flavorful ideas.

sangeeta khanna

When I first red the title I thought it was rice with pesto, how wrong of me. This is definitely something I never tried before and it really looks like a winner recipe.
It’s going at the top of my recipe-to-do list!

Mike @TheIronYou

Great post. Good to be reminded that healthy food doesn’t necessarily mean boring. I shall try this out at home!

Miss K

I have never given mint a shot with rice and am excited to try this new flavor. I like all the green goodness that goes into the recipe with the peas, arugula and mint… Gruyere also sounds awesome and I bet goat cheese would work great too!

Julia {The Roasted Root}

combines favorite ingredients to a fine art – thank you for your ideas!


I absolutely love brown rice salads. They are a great way to use up veg and throw things together in a new and surprising way! I’ve never tried smoked paprika but I’m definitely going to now 🙂


I know exactly what you mean – sometimes the throw together meals end up being the best ones!
I’ve had some kale and spinach that needed to get used pronto and whipped up a salad with coconut and miso vinaigrette and apples – I ate it twice in a row ;).

Heather @ chiknpastry

smoked paprika is so nice!
and so is your table…love it!

Averie @ Averie Cooks

You and Wayne didn’t happen to be in Japantown yesterday, did you? I thought I saw you guys walk past the window at the restaurant where I was eating lunch and it felt like a special celebrity sighting. I have plans to bring your rhubarb rosewater syrup to a girls’ brunch this weekend…so pretty!

HS: Hi Maggie! We were in Japantown – doing a mochi / UPS run ;)….xo


I absolutely love smoked paprika, it adds such a great spice to any dish! And the mint + gruyere makes it even better 🙂 Can’t wait to make this for dinner soon!

Anjali @ The Picky Eater

I love the idea of this! I’m always looking for ways to eat brown rice and I think I’ll have to try this next.


My friend’s mother is Trini and makes a similar dish we call “green rice”, but she makes it with spinach. I lurve it!


Very interesting flavor combination. I love those food inventions where you look and see what you have and let one thing lead to another. :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

I recently realized that I have three kinds of smoked paprika: sweet, hot, and agridulce (what’s that?! It was a gift). So I am happy to hear this good suggestion for putting this spice to use. And if you’re on a kick, maybe there will be more to follow. 🙂


I’ve been on a major smoked paprika kick lately and am pretty excited by the idea of making a smoked paprika oil. I’m so glad you shared this recipe!

la domestique

Isn’t it great when a random handful of ingredients come together into something great? Rice with lots of beautiful green veg is one of my favorite quick and easy dinners–but I’ve never tried smoked paprika with it. Thanks for the great idea!


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