Thursday, June 27, 2013

Multi-Vegetable Paella

multi-vegetable paella recipe from plenty, yotam ottolenghi

Last night I did something that I have done once per month for the last 6 months: I prepared this bright, fragrant vegetarian paella recipe {actually, it's vegan}. I suppose I am obsessed with this dish because when I gave up eating  meat and poultry 8 or 9 years ago I, by default, gave up eating paella. I missed paella desperately but didn't know how to compensate, flavor-wise, for the exclusion of the sausage/chicken/seafood combination found in the paella dishes I knew and loved. I tried a few vegetarian recipes and *yawn*.

And then this recipe came along. And I quickly realized that vegetable paella {at least this vegetable paella} is not the sad step-cousin of the meat/seafood varieties. This paella recipe stands on it own as one of the greatest of all varieties. It's a healthy yet satisfying dish bursting with flavor thanks to an array of vegetables traditionally found in vegetable paella getting a friendly boost of garlic and spices {smoked paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper and saffron} although I must admit I use generous measurements when it comes to the spices. And an extra benefit: this recipe is SO easy to prepare.

Anyway, we kicked off summer last night with an al fresco dinner in our courtyard with only two items to consume: this multi-vegetable paella and a chilly glass of Cote du Rhone blanc. It was a simple yet heavenly dinner and I thought you might like to try this recipe. 

Multi-Vegetable Paella

3 T olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 t smoked paprika {be sure to use the smoked variety}
1/2 t ground turmeric
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1 c paella rice {other varieties won't soften but if you can't find paella rice, perhaps try risotto rice}
6 T + 1/2 T sherry
1 t good saffron threads
2 c boiling vegetable broth
3/4 c frozen lima beans {original recipe calls for fava beans}
12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5 grilled artichokes in oil from a jar, drained and quartered
15 pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 T roughly chopped parsley
4 lemon wedges

Heat olive oil in a paella pan or large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and golden - approximately 4 minutes. Add the bell peppers and fennel and saute until soft and golden - approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. During this phase, stir frequently and keep a close eye to prevent vegetables from overcooking to a dark brown color.

Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric and cayenne to the vegetables and stir. Add the rice and stir frequently for 2 minutes. Add the sherry and saffron, allowing to boil down for 1 minute. Then add the stock and 1/3 t salt and reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes until most of the liquid has absorbed and resist the temptation to stir.

Meanwhile, place the lima beans in a bowl and pour plenty of boiling water on top to thaw. Drain and set aside.

Remove the paella from the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed without stirring. Scatter tomatoes, artichokes, and lima beans over the rice and cover the pan tightly with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Remove the foil, scatter the olives and parsley on top and serve with lemon wedges.

Serves 2 generously.
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Source: Adapted from Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi

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