Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Multi Vegetable Paella

Multi Vegetable Paella by Charlotte

Yotam Ottolenghi's second cookbook Plenty is now out, on sale, up for grabs, available in many book stores. Following my personal success and obsession with the last Ottolenghi cookbook I will be purchasing this one. So far I have had a brief encounter with one recipe - the Multi Vegetable Paella; not any old paella but a multi vegetable dish of delicious meat free ingredients, almost certainly one of the most colourful things I have ever made.

It all came about 2 weekends ago when summer briefly arrived in London. Maxi dresses, guitars in the park, BBQs, sunhats and small dogs destroying picnics were out in force.  An exciting arrival came on the Saturday with the Guardian – an exerpt from Plenty. This was music to my ears; I have so far failed to mention that this is a vegetarian cookbook, however, it is most certainly going to be a pleaser with everyone, including meat loving folk.

On the Sunday night, following a day of maximum relaxation and Ceri shouting to the world that she was going to start reading the gardening section of the weekend papers I decided to try out the vegetarian paella. This was the right thing to do, as was my error in over catering (over catering is an incredibly popular pastime in the Keston Kitchen).  The paella was so colourful it was like carnival and it was super tasty, so much so that even the male diners were satisfied. 

If you do attempt this dish then I can assure you that comments such as ‘What’s this? It must be some kind of fish or meaty product?’ will be heard.

‘No Jake it’s an olive. No again, that’s an artichoke’ will be the response.


3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped

1 small red and 1 small yellow pepper, cut into strips

1/2 fennel bulb, cut into strips

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

150g Calasparra (or other paella) rice

100ml good-quality medium sherry

1 tsp saffron threads

450ml boiling vegetable stock


200g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)

12 mini plum tomatoes, halved

5 small grilled artichokes in oil (from a jar), drained and quartered

15 pitted Kalamata olives, crushed

2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

4 lemon wedges

Heat the oil in a paella pan or a large shallow frying pan, then gently fry the onion for five minutes. Add the peppers and fennel, and fry on a medium heat for six minutes, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the bay, paprika, turmeric and cayenne, stir, then add the rice and stir thoroughly for two minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Boil down for a minute, then add the stock and a third of a teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat as low as it will go and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Do not cover the pan or stir the rice during this time.

Meanwhile, put the broad beans in a bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water, leave for a minute, drain and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze each bean gently to remove its papery skin.

Remove the paella pan from the heat. Taste, add more salt if needed, but without stirring the rice much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and broad beans over the rice, cover the pan tightly with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Take off the foil. Scatter the olives and parsley over the top of the paella and serve with lemon wedges.  

Serving suggestion: for satisfying results this dish is best served to skeptical meat eaters.


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