Saturday, 31 December 2011

Vegetarian - Vegetable Medley Paella

To cook for a vegetarian is one of those thing that always poses as a challenge to most. I am not a vegetarian but after talking to quite a few of my vegetarian friends, I have to agree with them that quite often, there is not a lot of good options out there catering for them. Stuffed vegetables are sometimes just too boring or a cliché. So I have decided to include some vegetarian recipe on my blog. 

This is one of the dish that I have cooked for my friends and they all loved it. It just look like glorious sunshine on a plate. It is also a good vegetarian alternative to the normal Spanish Paella that includes Chorizo sausages and seafood.  The inclusion of different vegetables add textures and colour to the finished dish. A good vegetable stock is essential here, I used Marigold Swiss Organic Vegetable Bouillon which I personally think is one of the best that I've tried. I have also took the more adventurous route of cooking the Paella outdoor on a barbecue but this is just as easy to make on a conventional hob.

Cooking Paella on a BBQ
Vegetable Medley Paella

Recipe (adapted from 'Plenty' by Yotam Ottolenghi):
(serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are)

3tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 fennel bulb, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, feel free to add more if you like it spicy
150g Calasparra rice (Paellla rice)
a small pinch of saffron, soaked in 50ml warm water
450ml good vegetable stock, I used Marigold Swiss Organic Vegetable Bouillon
200g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)
12 mini plum tomatoes, halved
5 small grilled artichokes in oil from a jar, drained and quartered
15 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
2 tbsp chopped fresh parley
1 lemon, cut into wedges 
Sea salt

Heat up the olive oil in a paella pan, or a large shallow frying pan (I have used a roasting tin here), and gently sauté the onions, peppers and fennels for about 7-8 minutes, until soften and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the bay leaves, paprika,turmeric and cayenne paper to the vegetables and stir well. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly for 2 minutes before adding in the saffron and the socking liquid. Stir and then add the stock and season with salt. Reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Do not cover the pan and don't stir the rice during cooking. This produces a crusty and crispy bottom as the rice caramelised and toasted at the bottom of the pan during the cooking and it is precisely this that give the Paella it's authentic flavour.

Meanwhile pour plenty of boiling water over the brad beans in a bowl and leave for a minute, then drain well and leave to cool down. Now squeeze each bean gently to remove the outer skin and discard it. This is not essential but it is worth doing if you've got the time as it gives you this glorious vibrant green beans. 

Remove the paella pan from the heat. Taste and season accordingly without stirring the rice and vegetables too much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and broad beans over the rice and cover the pan highly with foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Take off the foil. Scatter the olives and parley on top of the paella. Serves with wedges of lemon.

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