It’s summertime in the UK. So, it’s time to start making those dishes that we’d love to eat whilst sitting on a sunny terrace at the beach/ countryside/ side of a mountain (delete as appropriate). For me, paella is one of those dishes. With it’s Spanish heritage and warm orange hue, this dish encapsulates sunshine and good times. But, and this is quite a big ‘but’, as a vegetarian since childhood, I’ve never actually eaten a ‘proper’ paella. Keen to address the paella omission in my life, I developed this recipe after doing a spot of reading about the perfect paella and seeking to follow the paella rules (I acknowledge that making a paella without fish or meat is probably breaking the biggest rule of all but….)
One of the most appealing rules of paella-making is ‘stirring is forbidden’. Once you have prepared everything, you just need to bung it in the pot and leave it to cook with only the occasional peek. Brilliant. This means that I can cook, do the drying up, bring the washing in and rock A-L’s dolls to sleep all at the same time. Without stirring, the paella forms a thick layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan (remember this when choosing your pan). It’s great and a delicacy in Spain.
The paella rules specify some key ingredients: saffron, garlic and olive oil. The other ingredients vary according to the part of Spain that the paella originates from. From this east London, vegetarian part of Spain, I wanted to include broad beans (also known as fava beans). I had a bulk load in my veggie box, I hadn’t ever used them in a dish for A-L, and I had a hunch that they would work. I think they do.
This recipe serves 4. For other Spanish style cooking see Spanish Butter Beans.
- 2 generous tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
- 4 strands of saffron, soaked in a little bit of water
- 3 tsp paprika (I used 1 tsp smoked paprika and 2 tsp sweet paprika so adjust to your taste)
- 1/2 yellow or red pepper, chopped
- 200g shelled fresh broad beans/ fava beans (from around 20-25 pods)
- 50g sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 75g olives
- 250g paella rice (I used bomba but risotto rice can also be a good substitute)
- 800ml vegetable stock
- Fry the onion in the olive oil until soft but not browned.
- Add the garlic, saffron, paprika and fry for a couple more minutes.
- Add the pepper, broad beans, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and rice. Stir well.
- Pour 500ml of the stock over the rice mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and gently simmer, uncovered, for around 15 minutes. Do not stir!
- Add the remaining stock to the rice and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or so until the rice is cooked. Again, do not stir! I occasionally pushed the vegetables down into the stock but otherwise just kept an eye of the pan to make sure that the rice did not boil dry. Add further stock if necessary. Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat and cover with a lid or tea towel, leaving for 5 minutes before serving.