In an attempt to disprove the rumor that I only cook things that cause people to gain fifteen pounds just by looking at them, I thought it might be a good time to post the recipe for vegetable paella. It's something that I learned to make while I lived in Spain in high school. Alexis loves it more than just about anything else I conjure up for dinner, so hopefully someday I'll be able to sit on the couch, snap my fingers, and have her cook it while I pick my nose or something.
I should mention that I learned to make this from my Spanish host mother, Pepita. I've probably completely screwed up her recipe by now (I lost the book where she wrote her recipe down for me), but I know for a fact that the way she made it was this simple. I don't really know why all of the recipes I've seen online are complicated. Simple is good, y'know? Especially for those of us who are a bit simple-minded. Ahem.
Side note: It probably pained Pepita greatly to not put seafood in this. She was pretty awesome about the whole vegetarian thing, but living on the Mediterranean Coast and not eating seafood was probably a sin in her eyes. But, the shrimp still had their eyes and all of their other bits and pieces when they were in dishes, so there was NO WAY I was eating them.
Also, the notion that you need a special pan for paella? Pfffffft.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, sliced
1 cup arborio rice
1 can vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon paprika
6-8 threads saffron (Walmart generally sucks, but they sell it for about $5 less than Giant Eagle. The Strip District is an even better place to find it, if you can.)
1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1. Heat the oil pver medium heat in a large skillet.
2. Add the red pepper and sauté until softened.
3. Add the onion. Saute until clear.
4. Add the rice and continue to sauté until it begins to look almost clear.
5. Add the broth, water, paprika, and (crushed) saffron. Simmer on medium-low heat until the liquid reduces and you start to be able to see the rice. NO STIRRING, btw. It's against at least 15 countries to so much as touch the paella as it is cooking.
6. Toss the artichoke hearts and mixed vegetables on top. There's no need to thaw the vegetables first as the steam from the rice/broth will take care of business in no time. Oh, and NO STIRRING. I mean it.
For the record, when fresh vegetables are at the farmer's market and can be had without taking out a second mortgage on our house, I do use them. 'Tis the season for frozen at our place right now, though.
7. It's done when the liquid is gone. You can test a few grains of rice if you want, but NO STIRRING. Ahem. If the rice is still a little crunchy when you test it, you can add a bit more water and let it simmer a little longer.
All told, it takes about 20-25 minutes for paella to cook. Since you aren't allowed to stir, it's really only about 10 minutes of hands on cooking time.
8. Tah-dah! You're allowed to stir it up a little when you serve it.