I was flicking through my current favourite cook book, yes the wonderful Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, looking for some vegetarian inspiration that would fit in with my current healthy kick start to 2011. For wonderfully flavourful and colourful food you need look no further. Being totally vegetarian it fits nicely into my healthy January, but being Plenty it is also introduces you to wonderful new taste combinations and bright vibrant food that is bursting at the seams with flavour, which makes it so much easier to stay on the wagon as it were.
Ever since I got this book the Multi Vegetable Paella has caught my eye, and it lived up to all expectations and is just too good not to share. You'll need a few spices to hand - one of my absolute favourites smoked paprika which infuses any dish with a quite intoxicating smokey flavour due to the slow oak smoking , and another, turmeric, not only full of antioxidants but delivers a wonderful vibrant yellow hue to the rice, plus a little cayenne for a fiery hit. These really elevate this dish.
Multi Vegetable Paella from Yotam Ottolenghi and Plenty
Serves 2 generously (as per recipe but I reckon easily 3)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped, I used a small regular onion
1 small red and 1 small yellow pepper, cut into strips
1/2 fennel bulb, cut in to strips, not always so easy to come by here and this would still be a delicious dish, but really does add to the flavour of the paella with that sweet, aniseedy note
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, I did add a tad more, just couldn't help myself
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
150g Calasaparra rice (or another paella rice) I had arborio and used that. Definitely use a short grain rice as it will absorb all the cooking liquid.
100 ml good quality medium sherry
1 tsp saffron threads
450 ml boiling vegetable stock
200g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)
12 mini plum tomatoes, halved. I used red and yellow cherry tomatoes
5 small grilled artichokes in oil from a jar, drained and quartered. I had the non grilled variety in the pantry and used those and they worked fine too.
15 pitted kalamata olives, crushed or halved
2 tbsp parsley, roughly chopped
4 lemon wedges
Heat up the oil in a paella pan or a large shallow frying pan, and gently fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and fennel and continue to fry on a medium heat for about 6 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric and cayenne to the vegetables and stir well. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly for 2 minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Boil down for a minute ans then add the stock and 1/3 teaspoon of salt. reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer very gently for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Very importantly...Do not cover the pan and do not stir the rice during cooking.
Meanwhile pour plenty of boiling water over the broad 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 skin and discard it. Fiddly yes, worth it - most definitely for these bright green little gems.
Remove the paella pan or frying pan from the heat. Taste and add ore salt if needed but without stirring the rice and vegetables too much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and broad beans over the rice and cover the pan tightly with foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Take off the foil. Scatter the olives on top of the paella and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with wedges of lemon.
So colourful, but most importantly so full of flavour, so many layers. This is certainly not a shy dish, rather a full blown diva. The rice infused with the stock, still with a slight bite for texture, the sweetness of the peppers, fennel and tomatoes, the artichokes, the bright green broad beans. the smokey paprika, a little heat from the cayenne, and then a salty from the kalamata olives. It would be quite delight with a cold cerveza on a hot summer evenig on the deck.
Enjoy! For more check out Toast