Monday, December 17, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Paella - Perfect For Christmas Dinner! Vegan and Gluten Free

Vegetable paella is a colorful and festive dish
Perfect for Christmas and holidays

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Christmas Dinner
My son and his wife requested that we have a Spanish theme for this year's Christmas dinner. So this week I dusted off my 18" paella pan and did some experimenting.
Paella is very colorful and festive looking, especially when it's full of red and green vegetables! It's perfect for all guests as it is vegan and gluten free. 

This is my version of Paella. Being from an Italian family, the most difficult thing for me is to let the rice cook without stirring it as I would be constantly doing were I making risotto. I use arborio rice here although the proper paella rice is called "bomba". Arborio is more readily available and works just fine.
The proper pan to use is, of course, a paella pan. It's important that you have a big enough stove top to heat the large paella pan evenly. It took part of 3 burners to heat my large 18" pan.

Traditionally the vegetables are cooked in oil in the paella pan and then removed until later. I roast the vegetables in the oven instead as it uses a bit less oil and I prefer the flavor and texture of the roasted vegetables.

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Roasted Vegetable Paella
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]
Requires large roasting pan and large paella pan (~18")

For the roasted vegetables
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced 
1/2 pound asparagus, cleaned, bottom part of stem removed
1/4 pound oyster mushrooms separated into pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the paella
4 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
2 C arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
6 to 8 ounces frozen artichokes, thawed and rinsed (I used Trader Joe's)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Place peppers, asparagus and mushrooms in a large roasting pan. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper and mix until well coated. 
Roast for 7 minutes. Stir and roast until lightly brown, another 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven and set aside.

Before roasting
After roasting

Heat broth in a small saucepan and keep warm. Crumble the saffron threads while adding them into the broth. Salt and pepper to taste. If you are using  bouillon cubes for your broth, they may already contain adequate salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the paella pan. Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. 
Add garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.

Cook onions and garlic

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they are dry.This combination of onion, garlic and tomatoes is called the sofrito.

Add tomatoes
Cook until thick and dry
This is called the "sofrito"

Add the rice to the sofrito. Stir well until combined. Cook on medium high heat, stirring continually, until the rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the white wine to the rice and cook, stirring continually, until it is absorbed.

Add rice and then wine.

Add hot broth to the rice and stir in the peas. Bring the stock to a boil.
Do not stir the rice again after the broth is boiling.

Add broth and peas

Arrange thawed artichoke hearts and roasted peppers, asparagus and mushrooms over the rice. 

Place vegetables over the rice 

Cook uncovered on medium high heat. Move the pan over several burners and rotate occasionally to make sure it is cooking the rice evenly.
Cook until the rice begins to appear above the liquid, about 8 to 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover with foil until the rice is cooked, another 8 minutes.

Rice begins to appear above liquid - reduce heat
Cover with foil

If the rice is dry and still a bit hard, add another 1/2 cup of broth or water and cook until done, another 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat with the cover on and let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Per serving (6): 390 calories, 5 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 84 mg omega-3 and 674 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 9 g protein, 70 g carbohydrates, 7 g dietary fiber and 275 mg sodium (plus whatever additional salt is added to taste). 

Per serving (8): 293 calories, 4 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 63 mg omega-3 and 506 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 7 g protein, 52 g carbohydrates, 5 g dietary fiber and 206 mg sodium (plus whatever additional salt is added to taste). 

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