We had a very appropriately 30-something New Year’s Eve, replete with dinner guests, champagne, a charcuterie board, and of course, a game of vodka roulette (the Husband either won or lost, depending on your point of view. The next morning, he felt he had definitely lost). Totally approp.
Our dinner party plans were a little impromptu, and with a couple of guests with dietary restrictions, it was the prefect opportunity to deploy a recipe from Plenty, one of my THREE Christmas present cookbooks. (Apparently, cookbooks are what you get for Christmas the year you start a blog. This is mostly inspiring, though a bit terrifying, as they are beyond gorgeous. And I’m not talking just the food or the photos, either. How does someone raise seven children and a gaggle of dogs and look like this?)
Vegetable Paella For Six (Yotam Ottolenghi, with a few tweaks)
- olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 orange bell peppers, sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 carton baby Bella mushrooms
- 6 bay leaves
- teaspoon smoked paprika
- teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups rice (the recipe calls for Calasparra; I found this impossible to find and went with the medium grain Calrose instead)
- 12 tablespoons sherry
- 2 teaspoons saffron
- 4 cups of vegetable stock, brought to a boil
- 8 plum or Roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1 15 oz can artichoke hearts, well drained and cut into quarters
- plenty of fresh parsley
- lemon wedges
- If you’re serving this as a dinner party dish and want to get the timing done right, best to get your veggies prepped first. Cut up your onion, peppers, fennel, etc. and set aside. The rest of the dish takes about 45 minutes start to finish.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute about 6 minutes; add peppers and fennel and saute until they start to soften. Add garlic and mushrooms, cook an additional minute.
- Boil your vegetable stock (your electric water boiler is perfect for this!)
- Add bay leaf, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper and give the mixture a stir. Add the rice and stir it about for two minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Let that cook off about a minute or so and then add your vegetable stock and a dash of salt (especially if you’re using low sodium broth!). Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 35 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Don’t stir it.
- When the rice has cooked through, taste it without disturbing it too much and adjust the seasonings. Add the tomatoes and artichokes to the top and then cover for about 10 minutes, to give a chance for the heat to gently cook them.
- Serve with parsley and lemon wedges.
Fact: paella tastes better with seafood. That being said, this was very tasty rice with vegetables, and it had a pretty color, given the turmeric. No hay de que, por lo menos, ¡teníamos bastante cava!