Vegan Paella

Paella was the first thing I ate in Spain on the day I arrived in Seville. Unfortunately it had rabbit in it which is a common ingredient used over there along with ham and fish. After picking out the rabbit pieces it was pretty good for an appetizer from a bar.

After coming back home I adapted recipes to fit my vegan needs and discovered it is really easy to make. It has a lot of ingredients but it is still not complicated. The most important ingredients are Spanish short grain rice from Calasparra, Spanish smoked paprika, and Spanish saffron threads.

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The rice must be the special paella kind and can be found anywhere. The saffron and paprika give the distinct color and flavor that makes paella so awesome. The rest of the ingredients are basically dependent on what you like. Tomatoes, piquillo peppers (or bell peppers), onion, artichoke hearts, and green beans (or peas) are what I primarily use but there are other versions out there. Using fresh artichokes are the best but so time-consuming so using canned artichoke hearts to save time is totally fine.

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While prepping the veggies, start heating up the broth, you will want to add it warm and not cold. The paella pan heats up faster than other pans so after heating the oil at medium-high heat, it won’t take long for it to start sizzling. Add the onion and peppers and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. I like to have the rest of the ingredients next to me ready to go.

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Add the saffron, garlic, paprika, peppers, and veggies one at a time. I like to stir in each one before adding the next. After this, add in about half the rice, mix it in well, and then add the rest. At this point your paella pan (if it is a small one like mine) will seem like it can’t fit anymore in so do not pour in the warm broth all at once. Pour it in about a cup at a time. Bring it to a boil after adding the first cup of broth and bring it down to a simmer for the rest of the cooking time. This part takes awhile because as the rice slowly soaks up the broth you have to add more. Try not to stir it a lot. You can move it around a bit, sliding the spoon around the edges a little and down the middle but you don’t want to disturb it too much. It is okay if it sticks a little to the pan, it tastes good that way.

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After the liquid is absorbed, taste the rice and see if it is soft enough. If it seems a little too crunchy, then stir it a little and keep simmering it until soft. I like to season it with parsley towards the end of the cooking process and then a crucial last step is the lemon. Squirting fresh lemon juice on the paella really brings out the flavor and makes it even better. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

This is for about 4 servings and expect about an hour and a half to two hours for prepping and cooking.

1 TBSP olive oil

3 medium tomatoes, seeded cored and chopped

1 cup of piquillo peppers OR jarred roasted bell peppers OR fresh bell peppers, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium or large white onion, diced

1 cup fresh or frozen  green beans OR peas

about 8 quartered artichoke hearts from a can or 1-2 fresh artichoke, quartered

1 to 1 1/2 TSP Spanish smoked paprika

a few pinches of Spanish saffron threads

1 1/2 cups of rice

3 cups of vegetable broth

 

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Diaz Sauce

This is a quick and easy sauce that I like to make when I am short on time. It can be used for any pasta and the possibilities are endless with what you can add to it for extra flavor. I learned this from a friend while in Spain (which is where it also got its name). The vegan yogurt gives it a sweet taste and the ketchup and mustard gives it a light spice flavor. If you do not like vegan yogurt then vegan mayo goes really well with this too and makes it tangy.

After cooking and draining your favorite pasta as directed on the box, just stir in these ingredients and either enjoy it right away or let it chill for a few hours. It tastes great warm or cold (I prefer mine to be cold). I like to add sliced black olives to mine but you can also add fried or baked tofu, corn, peas or bell pepper. I only season mine with pepper, however other herbs that taste great with it are basil and parsley.

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This recipe is for two servings:

1 1/3 Cups of dry pasta

2/3 Cup of vegan yogurt (I use the So Delicious brand) OR vegan mayo

1/2 TBSP Yellow mustard

1 TBSP Ketchup

8 sliced black olives (optional)

**use tofu, or a mix of your favorite veggies to stir in if you do not like olives.

**adjust the ingredients to your taste preference, the friend I learned this from actually uses more mustard than me but I prefer it with less 🙂

 

Authentic Andalusian Gazpacho

While in Spain in 2016 my favorite Spanish dish quickly became gazpacho. I was there during the summer in the Andalusian capital of Seville. Southern Spain in the summer is crazy hot and gazpacho is refreshingly cold, so it is a perfect summer food.

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Ingredients

About 2 lbs of tomatoes

1 small or medium white or yellow onion (or half of a large onion)

1 cucumber

1 TBSP white wine vinegar

2 TSP salt (plus more to taste)

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Many blogs claim to have authentic gazpacho recipes when in fact they do not. Some people add bread to the recipe which is incorrect. The soup they are making is actually salmorejo. This is similar to gazpacho but it is heavier and just not the same thing. Authentic gazpacho, just like a real Andalusian would make, has just three ingredients, no cooking, and super simple to do.

Okay, there is actually a small cooking part. The tomatoes have to be simmered until their skin loosens so they can be peeled. Another step that I have noticed missing from other food blogs is that they do not peel the tomatoes. Any recipes claiming to be gazpacho that have unpeeled tomatoes, peppers, garlic, or bread in it is not authentic, true gazpacho.

*Peel the cucumber and cut it lengthwise in order to get the seeds out. Chop it up into small cubes and set aside. Dice up the onion into small pieces and set that aside. While you are doing this you can get a large pot ready for boiling water.

**As soon as the water is about to begin boiling, drop in as many tomatoes as you can where they have enough room to move around a little. If your pot is smaller than mine you may not be able to do all of the tomatoes at once. When the tomatoes begin to peel and you start to see the inside of them, start taking them out and put them in a bowl or strainer. Mine do not start peeling all at once so this takes a little awhile and you have to watch them. After they are all at the stage where you can see the skin loosening, you can set them aside for a little while because they will be hot. I wait about 5 to 10 minutes before I try to peel them. The skin should come off very easy.

***Once they are all peeled you have to get the core and seeds out. It is really easy if they have not been boiled too long. If they are too soft from over cooking, it will just be a little more messy. I start at the top and cut just a little bit, about an inch, until a section will easily be peeled off the core and the seeds are still intact.

****Try to get as much of the seeds out as you can and put the tomato meat pieces in a bowl. I do not chop the tomato because its so soft it will break up easily in the food processor. Next, put about half of each ingredient into a food processor or blender and puree it for about two minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients along with 1 TBSP of white wine vinegar and 2 TSP of salt.

*****Blend again until it is a thick liquid. You can add more salt at this point or wait until after it chills to add more salt. I like to add extra salt after it has chilled for 24 hours. Maybe as much as a teaspoon more. The salt really makes it taste even better but if you do not like a lot of salt then you don’t have to add extra.

Chill it for at least a day for the best taste. It can be eaten by itself or with a vegetable. I like to eat it by itself or alongside homemade baked fries. Enjoy 🙂

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