Arroz Verde – Mexican Green Herb Rice Rethought – Recipe


The traditional recipe for arroz verde involves cooking your rice with a puree of poblano peppers and herbs. It is truly delicious, and I'd choose it in a heartbeat over the typical red rice you find nearly universally at Mexican-American restaurants.

When I went to make it yesterday, I thought to myself "now why am I cooking all of these delicious fresh herbs?" Their flavor is so perfect when raw, why should I boil them for 20 minutes? So I took a new approach. I omitted the poblanos, and simply made a pesto-like puree of the herbs, garlic, and a little oil. After the plain rice was cooked, I stirred in the herbs right before serving.

The result was really satisfying, with a clean, bright, summery flavor. And as you can see, the green color is very appealing on the plate.

The recipe below calls for 2 cups of fresh herbs. My daughter and I raided the garden, and used a lot of flat-leaf parsley, oregano, and cilantro,and smaller amounts of chives, rosemary, mint and dill. You can vary it according to what you have available and what you are serving it with. Because the herbs are thoroughly pureed, you can use tenderish stems of parsley and cilantro as well as the leaves.

Arroz Verde – Mexican Green Herb Rice
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 4 as a side dish

  • 1.5 cups medium grain white rice
  • 2 cups edible parts of lightly packed fresh herbs (see note above)
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  1. Cook the rice in a rice cooker or according to package directions.
  2. In a food processor, combine the herbs, garlic, and olive oil. Process until thoroughly pureed.
  3. Just before serving, stir the herb mixture and salt into the rice. Taste and add more salt as needed.
  4. Variation: you could also stir in a bit of lime or lemon juice.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, June 29th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan or Modifiable.

14 Responses to “Arroz Verde – Mexican Green Herb Rice Rethought – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    I’ve thought about adding in the herbs right before it’s served too. Yours looks like it turned out really well. Next time I’ll try it.

  2. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 11:17 am #

    Adding the herbs at the last minute is such a smart way to keep this dish looking green and gorgeous! GREG

  3. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    I make this dish every two weeks or so with black beans or refried beans on the side. I’ll have to try this new technique, looks great!

  4. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

    I’ve done similar (adding the herbs at the end) with the addition of some toasted coconut. Delish!

  5. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    This looks very flavorful. Thanks for the great tip!

  6. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 2:40 pm #

    Hey! I use this trick when I make Peruvian arroz con pollo! 🙂 Except, I don’t boil the chicken and rice together. I know purists would shake their heads in disdain but I found that I like to cook my rice in the rice cooker (with vegetable or chicken broth) and then mix in pureed cilantro afterwards. That way I don’t end up with a scorched pot of burnt rice stuck to the bottom and the rice always turns out a beautiful green.

  7. Reply
    June 29, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    It’s so nice to see a good Mexican side dish other than the typical red rice with chunks of carrot. I would love to try this with some lemon juice and brown rice.

  8. Reply
    June 30, 2009 at 6:47 am #

    To bad there are no Mexican herbs in European markets…

  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 30, 2009 at 9:44 am #

    That is too bad! If you really want them, cilantro is very easy to grow. Otherwise, this same dish would be delicious with any tender green herbs you have available that taste appropriate to your other items on the plate.

  10. Reply
    July 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    I make this dish and then pan-fry leftovers formed into balls for an side-dish. They are great to dip in tzatziki sauce, and reheat in the oven well.

  11. Reply
    July 3, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    Little known fact: I could totally live on rice. This looks amazing!


  12. Reply
    December 10, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Scrolling through your recipes, and I love this idea–it reminds me of the delicious herb pesto, really just a slurry of green, added at the end of the “Pope’s Risotto” featured in the NYT a while ago. A spring recipe, but I could eat it anytime, with edamame instead of asparagus.

  13. Reply
    January 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Great idea! can’t wait to try this. I love the taste of fresh herbs. Thanks.

  14. Reply
    April 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Michael, I love this idea – I just did something like it with a bit of chicken soup I made – I took fresh parlsley, garlic chive, nettle (blanced) and tarragon from the kitchen garden, minced the herbs, chopped the nettle, and added them on top of the soup in each bowl. The smiles on our guests’ faces were all I needed to see. . .

    As for the rice – I’ve made this before, I think it’s important to rinse the dickens out of it, then fry it lightly “until it dances” in the pan. To me, it provides a more satisfying, authentic flavor, but I love the simplicity of this recipe!



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