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Vegetarian Vuelta a España: Paella!

[1]We’re entering into the long Labor Day weekend here in the States, so I’ll be disappearing a little bit for a few days. I’ve somehow gotten myself talked into heading down to the woods in North Carolina for some rustic camping and cycling. It seems innocent enough, but the many of the folks I’m going with are hoodlums from the cycling fan site Podium Cafe [2]. So, wish me well on this adventure…I hope to come out alive on the other side.

Featured Recipes

In the meantime, I leave you with a classic Spanish recipe – Paella. The origins of this dish brings up images of Spanish workers in the fields, cooking over open fires and serving straight from a communal round flat pan called La Paella. Fortunately for us, the main ingredients have evolved from the 18th century staple in paella – the marsh rat.

This post originally appeared on Veggin’ in July 2009 [9]during my Vegetarian Tour de France [10], but it’s so good, it bears repeating. Enjoy!

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It may be the Tour de France but some stages do dip into other countries…as shall I. I’ve been focusing on French dishes but today’s stage ended in beautiful Barcelona, Spain. That means, it’s time to whip up a Paella!

There are literally thousands of ways to make paella. I used a lot of the vegetables that I received in my weekly vegetable delivery (including a lot of the green onions!) Feel free to throw in whatever vegetables you may have on hand beyond what I have listed below – carrots, asparagus, peppers, capers, whatever. The key is throwing it in at the right times so you don’t end up with a squishy vegetable mess. The more delicate the vegetable, the later you throw it in. Be sure to let the cover sit on the pan to let everything steam and cook, but check to make sure the liquid isn’t burning off too quickly or the rice won’t be able to cook very well.

Paella is actually very easy to make and it becomes a really hearty dish with not a lot of added extra fat.  It’s a great dish to serve to a crowd and doesn’t require a lot of babysitting while it cooks. (And, if you ask nicely, perhaps someone will get up and check on the paella when it’s cooking so you don’t have to…)

Megabeth’s Paella

In a small bowl, put crushed saffron in 1 Tablespoon of water and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent and softened.

Add white rice, stir to coat with the oil, and cook until beginning to brown.

Add one cup of vegetable stock and tomatoes.

Add saffron and the water it was soaked in, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to low. Add zuchinni, yellow squash and corn. Cover with a tight fitting lid and let simmer for 20 minutes on low.

Life cover, stir, and add artichoke hearts, and more of the vegetable broth. Replace cover and continue simmering until rice is cooked through – another 20 – 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and add additional broth or water if rice begins to dry out in the cooking process.