Vegetarian Paella

Cookalong with Frida and Ciana Sunday night. They in Frisco, Dallas Texas, USA and me here in Sollentuna Sweden. This time we made Paella, the National dish of Spain. We made Vegetarian Paella. It came out wonderful in flavors. Saffron and smoked paprika are the main spices in this dish. We used the vegetables we had, onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini, green peas, bell peppers, cabbage, chickpeas, tomatoes, broccoli. We also added mushrooms and vegetable broth. We did not have a Paella pan so we prepared all in the cast iron pan on the stove top and then switched to an oven pan and added the rice and finished it off in the oven. It tasted wonderful.

I did not succeed in getting the succarate (crisp bottom). It might be I need a Paella Pan for that and higher heat than the stove or oven can give. This is what I have read: ”Socarrat tends to form in special conditions: when the rice is cooked in a steel paella pan over a wood fire.” Maybe one day I can make it the traditional way. (What is soccarat? This is the crispy golden crust that is supposed to form on the bottom of the pan. It infuses the paella with a deep smoky and slightly nutty flavor. Once the broth starts cooking off, that’s when the socarrat magic starts to happen. You should hear a subtle snap, crackle and popping sound. Plus, you’ll smell a toasty aroma.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 200 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine (if you don´t have wine use broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups dry short-grain white rice
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 1 zucchini cut in slices (I didn´t have zucchini this time so I used cabbage, however Frida and Ciana used zucchini)
  • 2 bay leaves

Topping:

  • Broccoli bouquets for topping
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup sliced green olives for topping, optional

(As a topping you could even use sliced smoked bellpeppers, green beans or other vegetables you have and find will decorate your dish and add a great taste).

Instructions:

Prepare all the ingredients first. Chop the onion and garlic finely. Cut the rest of the vegetables to small pieces about 1-2 cm each.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large pan (I used my cast iron pan). Do not use a non-stick pan. A steel pan or a paella pan is the best if you have those. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms; cook 7 to 8 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, paprika, saffron, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Add wine and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until mostly reduced. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, green peas and the rest of your vegetables. Add the rest of the broth and bring to a low boil. Here you can either finish the rest in your pan on the stove top or switch to a oven pan. I did not have a large enough frying pan so I switched to a oven pan. The pan needs to be wide.

I poured the soffrito (that is the name of the vegetable mix) in the oven pan and spread it all out evenly. Beforehand I had heated the oven to 450 Fahrenheit / 230 celsius degrees with the oven pan inside. So I poured my mix into a hot oven pan. Then sprinkle the rice evenly over the whole pan and stir a bit all over so the rice sinks to the bottom. Place parchmentpaper on top so the liquid will not evaporate too quickly.

When covered with parchmentpaper place back in the oven and cook 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed. Do not stir after you have added the rice.

When the rice has cooked take out the pan and add your topping of broccoli or whatever you choose and put it back for five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine parsley, lemon zest and juice, and remaining 2 tbsp oil in a small bowl.

Take out your paella when all liquid is absorbed. If you are lucky you might have a crisp bottom as well.

Paella is always served in the pan.

Before serving scatter your mix of lemonjuice mixed with parsley and oil over the whole top, and garnish with olives, if desired. You could even garnish with green peas.

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