The social network that celebrates Latin food
When the family gets together or you’re having a lot of people over for dinner, it can get a complicated to serve something that will please everyone. Some people are allergic to shellfish, others simply don’t eat fish. Others don’t eat pork and yet others are vegetarian. You might already encounter this situation at your own family table.
Often the solution is to prepare different dishes for various tastes, but this means a lot of time in the kitchen and a lot of money on different ingredients. With this in mind, I propose a simple answer that will please everyone and will cost a fraction: vegetarian paella.
Let’s call it “land paella” because though in this récipe we include certain ingredients, you can change them for others in season or something that suits your taste.
Important to keep in mind is to follow the steps in the right order so that some of the ingredients do not overcook as they accompany the rice. You’ll want to use short-grain rice as it takes longer to cook. The slower the cooking, the more the flavors integrate. In this preparation, we use eggplant because of it gains a wonderful texture as it cooks and its flavor is mild. We also use peas and mushrooms. You could substitute these for artichoke, zucchini, carrots, whatever.
Some ingredients such as the peppers, saffron, paprika and tomato are a must and should not be substituted as they form the base of any paella. When we make a vegetarian paella, we’re looking for a variety of flavors, textures and colors. Let’s not forget this is a fun dish to make and a fun dish to eat, because each diner’s serving won’t be exactly the same.
Ideal is to cook a paella in a paellera, a shallow, wide pan for just this purpose. If you don’t have one, use a large pan or a clay pot that can withstand heat. If your stove burner is not very large, make sure to keep moving the pan or pot so that the heat is evenly distributed. Never stir the rice before it’s ready, otherwise it will not be the right texture. Another solutions is that once the rice has absorbed enough liquid, you could place it in the oven but taking care that it does not dry out.
This succulent dish can be served with fresh vegetables, such as a salad of fresh lettuce or watercress with olive oil and lemon juice. Add some fresh pear (not too ripe) or of apple to the salad.
Serve the paella as soon as it is done. You can feel content that you have given your loved ones a dish that everyone can enjoy. One more thing: Be sure to save a little bit for the next day — it will taste even better.
Makes 6 servings
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium yellow pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1 medium red pepper, seeded and finely sliced
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cups short grain rice
4 cups vegetable stock
½ pound fresh tomatoes, peeled and seedless, and diced
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into chunks
5 ounces frozen baby green peas
1. Steep saffron in 3 tablespoons hot water.
2. Sprinkle eggplant with salt, leave to drain in colander for 20 minutes, then rinse and dry.
3. In a large, deep sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, peppers and eggplant for about 5 minutes.
4. Add paprika and stir. Mix in rice then add stock, tomatoes, saffron and salt to taste. Bring to a boil; simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.
5. Add mushrooms and peas. Lower heat and cook an additional 10 minutes until liquid is absorbed, fluffing rice with a fork as needed. Serve.
Other recipes by Denisse:
Pastelón de Yuca y Pollo
Venezuelan-style Chicken Pot Pie (Polvorosa de pollo)
Cod in Tomato Sauce
Mexican-Style Shrimp Ceviche
Pulled Chicken with Jalapeño-Honey Mustard Panini
The Mexican Tamale: A Delight for the Palate
Shrimp Asopao with Pigeon Peas