05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Friday, March 27, 2015

Paella—Vegans Can Spice It Up Too!

By Linda Lovely
I’m writing a humorous mystery series (with romance, of course) that features Brie, a 27-year-old vegan chef, as heroine. To help her Aunt Eva, a cheese-addict omnivore, Brie has moved to her aunt’s goat cheese farm. Not surprisingly, aunt and niece engage in an ongoing battle of wills over what’s for supper. However, I’ll bet both would agree any variety of paella is a taste pleaser, which is why you’ll find a vegan recipe at the end of this post. Not sure what flavor of moonshine, Brie’s “legal” moonshiner suitor would recommend to accompany the meal. Don't worry, no bulls--or other animals--are sacrificed in this recipe.

A disclaimer: I’ve never been to Spain so I’ve never tasted what many consider the country’s national dish in its natural habitat. But, according to my web research (not necessarily accurate), even different regions of Spain claim their own unique recipes. The oldest variety apparently mixed meats like rabbit and duck with vegetables and rice. Not long after, a coastal version emerged substituting seafood for meat. Inevitably, chefs later started marrying land and sea ingredients with the veggies and rise.

The “mixed” Paella variety is the first one I tried—in Las Vegas, of all places. After one taste, it was a sure bet I’d add some version of this aromatic delicacy to my repertoire. The word paella has its roots in Old French and Latin words for pan, and originally referred to what the dish was cooked in. But you don’t need a special pan to make this. I use a turkey roaster on top of the oven. The biggest problem with paella—at least any version I’ve made—is there are so many ingredients, it’s impossible to make a small batch. The upside is it’s a real crowd pleaser. But, if you don’t happen to have 10-20 friends to invite to dinner, it freezes.

Please excuse my inexact measurements. I tend to measure with my tongue (e.g. needs more saffron) and my eye (looks like there aren’t enough tomatoes). This drives my strict measurement relatives bonkers. I cook like I write (by the seat of my pants) no formal outline or exact recipe. But, hey, it works for me.

“Approximate” Vegan Paella Recipe

Large Onion &1 to 2 cups celery (both coarsely chopped)
Large red bell pepper (or two small) chopped
½ to 1 Tbsp. minced garlic (do you care how your breath smells?)

Sauté the above ingredients over medium high heat in olive oil or coconut oil until “softish”—maybe 2-3 minutes

Add the following 3 ingredients and bring to a boil:
Artichoke hearts halved or quartered (about 2 packages frozen or 3 cans)
I large or 2 small packages of fresh spinach torn
Little less than 3 cups of water with 5 vegetable cubes mashed in water
(Vegetable broth cubes are in same grocery section as chicken bouillon cubes)

Reduce heat, stir in next ingredients, cover and cook about 15 minutes over low heat:
2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
(If you buy the variety with garlic, you could leave out garlic in step one.)
1 ½ cups of jasmine rice
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp Saffron
(Recipes usually call for less. Question is: how “old” is your saffron since it loses potency with time. Last time I put in heaping tsp of threads—2-3 years old—
which I mash between my fingers as I add them.)

Stir in frozen veggies (set out earlier to thaw) until rice absorbs water about 10+ minutes.
1 package baby lima beans
1 package green peas

Let sit a few minutes and fluff with fork.


P.S. If you’re not a vegetarian or vegan, just add chopped up chicken, sausage, and/or all manner of seafood—shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab, etc. YUM.


Ashantay Peters said...

I love paella! Can't wait to try this recipe - sounds yummy! Thanks for the history of the dish, too. I enjoyed your post.

Judith Ashley said...

Didn't know that about saffron. I still have a small bottle I inherited from my mom's kitchen and she'd been gone thirteen years now - it had been on her shelf for some time before then. I smile when I see it (which isn't that often as I do many things to not really "cook" because it reminds me of her trying out different dishes on us.

Linda Lovely said...

Judith, I'll bet the saffron is still good--unless you want it for the memories. It'll just take a little more.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for the tip! Now I know if I ever do decide to cook something that calls for saffron, I've already got some.

Diana McCollum said...

Enjoyed the post! Love trying new recipes.