Friday, July 12, 2013

Green Paella

Paella is something that I first experience in Spain, and let me tell you, no one does paella like spain.  The concept of it is excellent: rice, spiced with all sorts of lovely things including the expensive (but readily available for cheaper in Spain) saffron, full of vegetables, and, unfortunately, often full as well of meat.  Shellfish, quite often, but chicken or steak can make their way in there as well.  Paella was always a meal that had to be picked apart for me, but the rice is so flavorful, having been cooked in the spices and broth rather than all by its lonesome self in a pot of boring water, so it was worth it.  Thus when I found a recipe for green paella in the vegetarian cookbook that Allie gave me for my birthday, I knew it was going to be amazing.

I finally got the opportunity to make it last week when my aunt Linny was coming for lunch before a work meeting.  It only takes about an hour to put it all together if you count the prep time and simmering the rice for 15 minutes, so it's not that hard to do, and it really does come out looking so impressive!  As with most paella, this one does have saffron in it.  I ended up doubling the recipe, but I am way too cheap to use a whole teaspoon of the super expensive spice so I maybe used 50% more.  Fun fact about saffron: it is the stamen of some type of flower that just grows really well in Spain.  I also didn't have enough spinach to double it, but my mom was pumped about that since she isn't a big spinach fan.

What I love the most about making paella is when you throw the rice into the pan with everything else and let it cook that way.  No boiling water and adding the rice and waiting 20 minutes; with this, you add it to a pan full of onions, garlic, pine nuts (which by the way are an excellent texture addition and should not be skipped), tomatoes, bell pepper, paprika, saffron, and vegetable broth.  When you're cooking rice like that, it's not surprising how much flavor it takes on!  Peas and spinach get added in last minute (along with piquillo peppers, which I obviously skipped).  It all combines for a really delicious meal.  Lots of healthy vegetables, tons of flavor, and no meat :)  In full disclosure, since I did double this, I will admit that a lot of leftovers got thrown away, but I don't think that's any testament to the greatness of the paella; I was making a whole lot of food the last couple of weeks and leftovers have been abandoned.  Such is life in the summertime!

With that said, I am leaving for New Hampshire tomorrow for 2 weeks.  What I learned last year is that cooking at the beach was not very fun because of the lack of utensils, so I have decided to bring along everything that I think I may possibly need to cook and bake to my heart's content.  I also plan to continue blogging - just not every day like I have been doing!  Vacation is vacation after all :)


green paella
from Simply Delicious Vegetarian
by Carla Bardi

serves 4

1 pound spinach
2 onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pin enuts
1 dried red chile pepper, crumbled (I skipped this)
8 ounces tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large green bell pepper, seeded, cored and sliced
1 1/4 cups short-grain rice
salt and freshly-ground pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes
3 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
7 ounces Spanish piquillo peppers, sliced (optional, and skipped by me)


1) Wash the spinach and cook with just the water clinging to its leaves until wilted, 5-7 minutes.  Drain, squeezing out any excess moisture.  Chop coarsely.

2) Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until the garlic is pale gold, 3-4 minutes.  Add the pine nuts and chile and cook for 2 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the tomatoes and bell pepper.  Cook for 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the rice and saute for 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the paprika, saffron water, and enough stock to cover the rice by about 1 inch.

3) Bring to a boil and simmer until the rice is tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally during the cooking time to prevent rice from sticking to the pan.

4) Add the spinach and peas and mix well.  Simmer until the peas are cooked, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Garnish with the peppers if desired and serve.

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