Our Daring Cooks challenge for this month was paella. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, so I was raring to get going. I was determined to do it as traditionally as possible, albeit for a vegetarian version, so I scoured the shops around town and found a paella pan and Valencia rice, then scoured the internet for recipes. The veggie version provided by our host, Inma, was great but included veggies my kids won’t eat, so I eventually adapted one from the NY Times.
The first attempt was good, but nothing to write home about. I forgot a couple of ingredients (d’oh!) and didn’t have a heat diffuser so the rice around the edges of the pan didn’t cook as well (the rice in the middle was just perfect!). The second attempt was way better, although it was just for hubby and me so I halved it and used a smaller (non-traditional) pan. I’m happy to report that it was a success! I would strongly recommend a heat diffuser under the pan, so the rice cooks evenly.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small red pepper (capsicum), cut into strips
1 small yellow pepper (capsicum), cut into strips
1 small green pepper (capsicum), cut into strips
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 cups rice
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 medium can chopped tomatoes with juice
generous pinch saffron threads
1 litre vegetable stock
1 can lima or other large beans, drained
100g green beans, trimmed and cut in 1-inch lengths
2 artichoke hearts, sliced lengthwise into 6-8 pieces each
1 cup thawed frozen peas
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
lemon wedges for serving
Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Crush the saffron threads and place in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon warm water and set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a wide, flat bottomed pan that is deep enough to hold everything. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender, about five minutes.
Add the garlic, peppers and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers begin to soften, about three minutes.
Add the paprika and rice. Cook, stirring, for a minute until the grains begin to crackle. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes.
Stir in the saffron with its soaking water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add the stock, lima beans and green beans. Bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer without stirring for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Sprinkle the peas over the top and arrange the artichoke pieces. Continue to simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed, another 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle parsley over top, let rest a few minutes and serve with lemon wedges.
Blog-checking lines: Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!
Download the printable .pdf here.