One of the dishes I cooked for Christmas is the very yummy Vegetable Paella, the recipe adapted from the cookbook MADE IN SPAIN by the Spanish chef José Andrés whose restaurants are among the highest-rated and more popular here in the Washington D.C. area, most notably Jaleo and the minibar inside Cafe Atlantico. I purchased MADE IN SPAIN, the companion cookbook to his PBS cooking show, a few days before Christmas and bookmarked the Vegetarian Paella right away. I will probably try to cook most of the dishes in this cookbook which look really delicious and seem easy enough to prepare at home. I also love the photography and layout of the book which has one recipe all on one page and the photo on the facing page. It also gives helpful resources for Spanish ingredients and acceptable substitutions if necessary.
Prepare the sofrito early in the day or a day or 2 ahead.
10 ripe plum tomatoes
1½ cups Spanish extra virgin olive oil
4 small Spanish onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sweet pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
3 bay leaves
- Slice the tomatoes in half. Place a grater over a mixing bowl. Rub the cut surface of the tomatoes over the grater until all the flesh is grated. Discard the skins. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, sugar, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes. You want the onions to caramelize, if they get too dark, add ½ teaspoon of water to keep them from burning. Stir in the tomato puree, the pimenton, and the bay leaves and cook for another 20 minutes over medium heat. You'll know the sofrito is ready when the tomato has broken down and deepened in color and the oil has separated from the sauce. Discard the bay leaves. Makes 3 cups of sauce.
¼ cup Spanish extra virgin olive oil
8 baby yellow squash, halved lengthwise
1 cup half-inch eggplant cubes
3 cups cauliflower florets
¼ pound fresh wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 ripe plum tomatoes
¼ cup sofrito
1 cup dry white wine
pinch of saffron
3 cups filtered water
1 cup Spanish bomba rice or medium-grain rice
2 ounces fresh or frozen green peas
sea salt to taste, about 1½ teaspoons
2 ounces piquillo peppers, cut into ½ inch strips
- Heat the oil in a 13-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the squash and brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side. Add the eggplant and cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the plum tomatoes and the sofrito and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine and let it reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
- Crumble the saffron into the pan and pour in the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the rice and peas until well combined. Reduce the heat to medium high, season to taste with salt, and cook for 4 minutes. Do not stir the rice again, as this can cause it to cook unevenly.
- After 4 minutes, reduce the heat to low, lay the pepper strips on top of the paella, and cook for another 7 minutes. Remove the paella from the heat, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.