Veggie Paella

Veggie Paella

I started thumbing through back issues of Cooking Light on Sunday night, figuring that before I introduce any more cooking magazines into the house, I should really use the old ones more. Cooking Light has some great recipes, but the portions always seem a little nuts to me. Sometimes, if you have, say, two pasta dishes of the same volume, you’ll get one main dish serving that’s only 1c and the other will be 2c. It seems to me that this is how they keep things light–nothing clocks in over so many grams of fat, but if you followed their process, you’d be eating a weird variety of portion sizes every day.

Anyway, I decided to make Quick Vegetarian Paella last night, only I didn’t have any of hte “quick-cooking brown rice” the recipe called for. I had slow-cooking brown rice and plain-jane basmati rice. Figuring the latter cooks in less time than the former, I went with it.

About this time I also started making cocktails for Mr. Pea and myself. Maybe this was part of the problem. I don’t know how Julia Child drank and cooked at the same time. Maybe it’s because I was drinking gin and she drank wine. Anyway.

It didn’t dawn on me until, well, much later, that anything quick-cooking requires a good deal less liquid than anything long-cooking, because quick-cooking stuff has been processed to a point where typically it’s less fibrous and needs less broth or whatever to soften up. This occurred to me after I dumped 3 cups of basmati rice into the pot, but only 3 cups of liquid. I had to add, oh, 2-3 more cups of liquid to get the darn stuff to cook. And my god, we had a lot of paella. The original recipe is supposed to make ten cups, or 5 servings. We each ate a bowl, and there are four tupperwares stuffed to the brim with it, as well.

Don’t believe me? Here you go:

Lots of veggie paella

It’s a good thing this stuff was very, very tasty. It needed salt (Cooking Light, as a rule, does not believe in salt) and more pepper, but it was really very good! I’m going to provide you with their recipe with my adaptations, but remember–if you swap in regular white rice for quick-cooking brown, add a good deal more liquid and seasoning. If you swap in minute rice or something it’d be about the same. I wouldn’t use regular brown rice as the veggies you cook before you add the little grains would turn to mush before the rice would be done cooking.

Quick Vegetarian Paella, adapted from Cooking Light April 2005

2 T olive oil
2 c chopped onion
2 c 1-inch chopped green pepper
1 c sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups uncooked quick-cooking brown rice or basmati rice
2 cups chicken or veggie broth (more if you’re using white rice)
1 c water (more if you’re using white rice–you’ll need somewhere between five and six cups total liquid)
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp thyme (I think I only added a quarter. Whoops.)
2 c chopped tomato
1 c frozen green peas
1/2 c chopped green olives (disgusting–I left these out. Ewwww)
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp ground black pepper (you’ll need more, to taste)
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped a bit (these are expensive! I had no idea! At $3/can, we have to finish all that paella!)

Heat olive oil in a stockpot–a big, tall pot–over med-high heat. Add onion, pepper, mushrooms, garlic, and saute for five or so minutes. Stir in rice, broth, water, and thyme, bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat down, and simmer away. Check on it occasionally to make sure your water-to-rice ratio is ok; that’s how I discovered my little error. With regular white rice, this part takes about 15 minutes–the recipe calls for ten.

Stir in tomato, peas, disgusting olives if you’re using them, parsley, pepper, and artichokes. Cook a few more minutes to finish the rice and warm everything up. Add at least a half-teaspoon of salt and stir in–check it to see if it needs more.

Make sure you’ve got either a crowd or a lot of plasticware. I imagine this would also be good with a little chopped chicken, but it was quite delicious on its own.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, we had gin and tonics. 2 oz gin, 5 oz tonic water (avoid spraying all over your kitchen, like I did), and a squeezed slice of lime over ice. Tasty and cool.

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