Char-griddled Vegetable Paella
I love Spanish food. I spent a lot of time in Spain and the Canaries when I was a wee lass and tapas and paella were my favourites. It’s really, really hard to find a good vegetarian paella if you eat out. I think this is the one. This is a mash-up of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe I discovered recently and my own, which I’ve been cooking variations of for years. The chargrilled/griddled veg and browned onions with smoked paprika give the paella a gorgeous smoky taste. I cooked this for my friends last night, but we scoffed it so quickly, I forgot to take a pic!
Feeds 4 people or 2 greedy guts
3 tbsp olive oil| 1 Spanish onion, half-mooned| 1 red, green and yellow pepper, flamed, baked and stripped| 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced| 2 bay leaves| 1 tsp smoked paprika| 1tsp mild paprika| 1tsp cumin| 1 tsp turmeric| ½ tsp cayenne| 300g paella rice| 100ml white rioja| 1 ½ tsp saffron strands| 650ml boiling vegetable stock| sea salt| 20 mini plum tomatoes| 10 small grilled jarred artichokes, halved| 100g cashew nuts| 1 courgette cut into slim batons| 100g podded broad beans, blanched and skinned| 20 pitted Kalamata olives, halved| 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley – flat leaf and curly| 2 lemons, 1 for recipe and 1 cut into small wedges to serve.
Turn the gas on and put your peppers straight onto the flame to chargrill, rotate them until they have nice black splodges all over them. Remove the stalk and the seeds. Put them on a baking tray, with a drizzle of olive oil. Pop them into the oven on gas mark 5 for 30 minutes. Heat the oil in a paella pan, large, shallow frying pan, or wok then fry the onion for five minutes until the onions have browned ever so slightly. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the bay leaves and spices, add the rice and cook, stirring for two minutes. Add the vino blanco and saffron, boil for a minute so that the wine has soaked into the rice, then add some of the stock and a pinch of salt. Add half the tomatoes and the rest of the stock. Reduce the heat right down and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. In another pan, griddle the courgettes in a small amount of olive oil and get all your other ingredients ready steady.
Your peppers should be done by now, so slice them into thin, melt in the mouth strips, and throw them in with the courgettes, cashews, half the olives, artichokes and broad beans. Stir gently and leave to cook for a further five minutes. Add a touch more water if need be. The paella should look like it will ooze onto the plate when you serve it up and shouldn’t be too sticky or dry. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed, but avoid stirring it too much. Scatter the remaining tomatoes and olives over the paella, cover the pan with foil and leave for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsleys and serve with lemon wedges. I serve this with rocket, grilled Spanish onion and vegetarian parmesan salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and lots of rock salt and black pepper, slices of Manchego and some home-made aioli. Or it’s pretty lush just by itself.