Some people may wonder how vegan paella could be flavorful without the addition of shellfish or meats. Believe me, it’s very tasty with all the garden vegetables! Maybe you also think, “I’d love to make this dish but I don’t have that special pan that cooks use to make paella.” Don’t worry on that account. You needn’t have a paella (the name of the pan) to make paella (the name of the food). An 8-quart Dutch oven or stockpot will do very well. So where can the setbacks occur?
The 2 most likely problems that could happen when cooking this dish are: to overcook it and have mushy rice, or to undercook it and find hard grains of rice. The best tip for cooking this rice dish is to keep an eye on it. Stir the pot, as long as there is sufficient liquid, and once the rice starts to set-up keep the heat on medium-low. When the water is nearly absorbed, take a bite of the rice. Is it still hard? If so, you may need to set the heat to low, add a little more water and let it cook a bit more. When the rice is just slightly al dente and the water is absorbed, remove the pot from the flame, cover the paella with a tea towel and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Though it does call for a number of ingredients, cooking paella is easy, and your family and friends will be impressed.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Yield: 8 to 10 Cook Time: About 50 minutes
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2-½ tablespoons olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium-large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
½ pound fresh green beans, chopped to ½-inch lengths
1 large red bell pepper, chopped into ¾-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 large carrot, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 6-ounce jar artichokes
1/8 teaspoon saffron, loosely packed
2 bay leaves
3 cups short grain brown rice, (I use Lundberg’s Organic Short Grain Brown)
5- ¼ cups water, and up to an extra cup if needed
1 lemon – to garnish
1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven, or stockpot. Once the oil is hot, lower the heat to medium and add the garlic to the oil. Cook no longer than 1 minute, and then add the chopped onions and celery. Sauté them until they are tender, and then add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
2. While the vegetables are cooking, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the saffron to the water and let it simmer about 3 minutes.
3. Place the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold water. Add the rinsed rice to the Dutch oven along with 4-¼ cups cool water, and the 1 cup of saffron water—with the saffron threads. Bring the rice to a simmer, cook over medium-low heat and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. After this time, stir the rice, and add the chopped carrots, green beans, and red pepper. Cook another 20 minutes, stir, and then add the peas and the artichokes and continue cooking.
4. Check for doneness as the rice cooks. Add extra water if needed. The paella should be done after 45 to 50 minutes.