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Vegetable Paella

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.

Vegetable Paella

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.

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Reader Comments (10)

That looks fantastic! I'm always looking for easy vegetarian dishes and this one is going on my list next time.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa K

Looks yummy! I think I'll try it with the shrimp. And of course, no stirring.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertehamy

I have such a hard time with the no stirring rule. I guess its the Italian in me. You gotta stir the sauce or it will stick.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

@Linda--If you stir it, it turns into risotto. Same basic ingredients, just different preparation and TOTALLY different outcome. (Both of which are fantastic, IMHO.)

My favorite part of paella is when I do manage to get a little bit of rice that sticks and gets just a tiny bit burnt. No idea why, but I LOVE when that happens!

This looks easy enough for even me:p

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthepsychobabble

What a colorful dish!

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

That looks incredible. Now I want paella and I can't have rice till Passover is done!

I make paella with shrimp and chicken thighs along with all the veggies and the only difference is that you brown the chicken (DONT cook it all the way otherwise it gets rubbery) first and take it out of the pan. After you add the broth etc place the chicken and the shrimp on top and leave it alone. Really. Leave. It. Alone.

Oh, and for that even more special Spanish flavor use the Spanish (sweet) paprika called pimenton. There is hot pimenton and sweet pimenton. The sweet isnt really sweet its just not hot.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

I'm going to have a really, really hard time not stirring this. You may need to come and tie my hands behind my back or something. :)

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen


April 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrachel

I tried this recipe on Saturday, and my family absolutely loved it. I've not done a lot of Spanish cooking before, and had to ask a worker at GE what saffron was. I thought it was produce. I was wrong. I was also horrified when I saw the price, but decided to suck it up and I'd use it in other recipies, blah, blah blah. And then I totally forgot to put it in. It sat there with the paprika mocking me while I was dishing out diner. The family still loved it, though, so I will try it again soon, this time WITH the appropriate spices.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDG
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