Vegetable Paella

Just in case you think we only eat ice cream or pie in this household, I thought I'd share this yummy, versatile, vegetable paella.  I have to admit, the kids were not very excited about this dish - they actually had corn dogs instead (gasp!), but my husband helped himself to five servings and polished the whole thing off after which he said, "You can make this any time."

The recipe is from the vegetarian cookbook Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, a London-based, Israeli chef, author and restaurateur.  I made a lot of substitutions since I didn't have several items on hand, including subbing a Chinese cooking wine for sherry (gasp!, again), using a regular, run-of-the-mill medium-grain white rice instead of Spanish paella rice and using chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.  Oops, there goes the whole vegetarian thing, although I don't think Mr. Ottolenghi would be terribly offended as he enjoys eating meat as well : ).

In the recipe below, ingredients I didn't have are in orange and "crossed out", followed by my substitution.

Vegetable Paella
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes 2-4 servings

In a large, shallow, non-reactive skillet pan, heat:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Gently fry for 5 minutes:
1/2 Spanish yellow onion,  finely chopped 

Add and continue to fry for 6 minutes or until softened:
1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small fennel bulb, cut into strips

Add and cook for 1 more minute:
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Add and stir well:
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Then add and stir thoroughly for 2 minutes:
1 cup Calasparra rice or other short-grain paella rice  medium-grain rice

Next, add and boil down for 1 minute:
6 1/2 tablespoons good-quality sherry Shaohsing cooking wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads (wow, I actually had this on hand, though God knows how old it was)

Finally, add:
2 cups boiling vegetable chicken stock

Reduce heat to a minimum and simmer very gently for 20 minutes or until liquid is almost all absorbed.  Do not cover the pan and do not stir the rice during cooking.  Don't worry if some of the rice grains on top are a bit hard.  They will soften during the next step.

When most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, remove from heat and scatter on top:
12 plum tomatoes 3 large Roma tomatoes, large dice
15 quartered pieces artichoke hearts in oil, drained
3/4 cup shelled fava beans peas, fresh or frozen

Cover the pan with the lid or tightly with foil.  Leave to rest for 10 minutes to allow rice to absorb all of the liquid.

Take off the lid or foil and scatter on top:
15 pitted kalamata olives, crushed or halved
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Serve with:
lemon wedges

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