Preparation Time: approx 1 hr
It’s Sunday here in Andalucia, Spain & the traditional day for families to come together & share the cooking experience that is Paella.
There is much debate about what is, & what isn’t Paella. To the Valencians, the recipe for Paella is sacred & only refers to the traditional dish from Valencia: chicken, rabbit & duck. (See my photo of my vegan version below:)
It is even disputed that Paella Mariscos (seafood) served in the rest of the country is not a true a Paella.
So when in Spain, it’s sometimes best to just use the exression ‘Arroz con Verduras’ (vegan/vegetarian; but beware what stock has been used) not to be mistaken for Arroz con Carne which is meat, as to not upset any diehards.
I often make Arroz with leftover fresh veg &/or oddments from the freezer:
Onions, red pepper, frozen broad beans, peas, sweetcorn & even some vegan meatballs/sausages cut up if you fancy.
However you will need some key ingredients; so enjoy experimenting.
🥘 200g paella rice (don’t use other rice as it’s just not the same)
🥘 2 cloves of garlic – crushed or powedered
🥘 1/2 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper finely sliced
🥘 1/2 onion and/or 1/2 leek
🥘 Generous glass of Wine optional (or a can of Beer – my friend Pedro says it’s the magic ingredient)
🥘 2 Tomatoes finely chopped
🥘 1 TSP of Smoked Paprika
🥘 A few strands of saffron, or yellow colouring or 1/3 teaspoon
🥘 25g of peas and 25g of broad beans Other vegetables of choice
🥘 400ml of vegetable broth + more to top up if needed
🥘 Olive oil for sautéing Onions, garlic & peppers
1) In a paella pan or in a similar wide container, heat a little oil over a low heat. Once it is hot, we add the crushed garlic cloves, onion/ leek and green and red pepper.
Add a pinch of salt and stir frequently while sautéing over a low heat until caramelized but not too soft.
2) After approx 5 minutes, when the vegetables are partially cooked, add the tomatoes cut into cubes. Stir for a minute or two to heat through.
3) Once this is done, add the paprika and saffron/colouring. Add a TBS of water and mix well, until you get a kind of red paste. We add this to the sautéed vegetables and mix everything.
4) It’s now the time to add the rice. Once added, stir over the heat and mix with the rest of the ingredients for a minute or two.
5) Now we add the broth & any alcohol to our rice with vegetables, It’s better if the liquid is hot when adding.
Note: In quantity, first add twice as much broth as rice. Later if the rice is still firm, add a little more stock a cup at a time until rice is cooked.
Once the liquid is added, we mix everything together to ensure even distribution of all the ingredients. An important factor when cooking Paella is it is not stirred after this point.
Let it cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat, without stirring the rice at any time!
6) After this time and with the rice still half cooked, we add the fresh peas, green beans and other more tender vegetables. Introduce them to the rice mix a little at a time with a spoon, so that they are partially submerged in the broth. This also looks more visually appealing.
By adding them now, we will not overcook these vegetables and they will be slightly al dente. You are probably aware, that overcooking tends to degrade the nutrients in vegetables. Let everything cook for 10 more minutes or until rice is soft.
7) When all the broth has been absorbed, the rice with vegetables should be ready.
8) Once the rice is cooked, let the pan stand on the stove with the heat off. The socarrat is the crusty crispy bottom of the paella that becomes caramelized and toasted on the bottom of the pan when it is cooking. ‘The socarrat in paella is one of the most important keys for fabulous flavor’.
Key Tags: COMFORT FOOD, FISH FREE, MEAT ALTERNATIVE, SPANISH FOOD, SPECIAL OCCASIONS. WORLD FLAVOURS