Quick Vegetarian Paella

February 26, 2008

Sacromonte/Albayzin (Grenada, Spain)
View of Alhambra from the Sacromonte
Photograph © John Willer and used with permission. 

Honey, let’s play “Caveman!”

Cave hotels are beautiful, bright and clean.  I know because I stayed in one once, though not for a honeymoon! There are cave hotels in Turkey, Greece, and southern Spain , among others.   Imagine sending Sam and Harry to a cave in the Albayzin/Sacromonte area of Grenada, Spain, where the whitewashed cave homes are built into and stacked against the hills directly across from spectacular, 14th century  Alhambra palace and grounds.

A cave is a wonderful place to escape the afternoon glare and heat and take a siesta, emerging at sundown for a late dinner in the cool evening air, with the wild and lovely sounds of Gypsy music drifting up from the Flamenco bars dotting the hills below you.  

This recipe for Spanish paella is easier than most, and vegetarian besides. -Almostgotit

Quick Vegetarian Paella

10 strands saffron
6 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic minced
2 cups arborio rice
1 Tbs smoked paprika
15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas thawed
14 oz. can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbs parsley chopped
lemon wedges to serve

In a large saucepan pan, combine the stock and saffron, bring to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer.

In another large pan or wok, heat the oil and sautee the onion, peppers and garlic until soft. Stir the rice into the onion and pepper mixture and cook until rice is translucent, about two minutes. Add the paprika and tomatoes and stir well.  Pour simmering stock into the rice mixture and stir. Bring the rice mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan tightly, and cook 25 minutes.  Add the peas and chickpeas and simmer for  for 5 minutes more or until all the stock is absorbed. Stir well and add parsley. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tienda.com is a great online source for paella supplies and other Spanish food products, and provides several additional, more traditional paella recipes.

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Eggplant Tapenade

September 4, 2007

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Serve this addictive eggplant dip as an appetizer, and it might just segue into an easy meal. SAM

1 large globe eggplant
1 tablespoon water
1 large roasted red bell pepper
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 teaspoons capers, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot curry powder or more to taste
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons canned tuna, if desired
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Sea salt to taste

Cut the eggplant in half and place cut-side down in an 8- by 8-inch baking pan. Add the water, cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open, and microwave on high for 9 to 10 minutes or until collapsed. Microwave longer in 1- or 2-minute intervals, if necessary. Cool and scrap from the skin into the bowl of a food processor or a mixing bowl. Add the roasted pepper, olives, capers, cumin, curry powder, tahini, tuna, garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Pulse 5 or 6 times with the food processor or an immersion blender until roughly pureed. Season with salt. Serve with crackers, chips, or pita.
Makes 2 cups.


Pepper-Artichoke Tart

August 30, 2007

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You can go wild with combinations of fresh peppers in this savory summer tart. The Sweated Onions make a great palette to work off of. And with the nutty-tasting Gruyère and deceptively rich goat’s cheese, even your most dedicated carnivores won’t notice they’re not eating meat. SAM

Savory Pastry or Whole Wheat Savory Pastry
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 large bell peppers
2 or 3 small poblano, chipotle, or banana peppers, trimmed, seeded and thinly sliced [See Hot Pepper Prep Cooking Tip]
1 jalapeño pepper, trimmed, seeded and thinly sliced, if desired
1 tablespoon marsala wine or dry sherry
2 ounces log goat’s cheese
2 ounces water
1 ounce Gruyère cheese, finely grated
2 large marinated artichoke hearts with stems, roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare the pastry and press it into a 9-inch tart pan or 10-inch oval gratin dish. Blind-bake for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly crisp.

In a large chef’s pan over low heat, sweat the onions in 1 tablespoon of oil for 15 minutes. Add the garlic and continue sweating until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 15 additional minutes. Smash the garlic with a spoon and stir through the onions. Meanwhile, in a medium chef’s pan over medium-high heat, santé the peppers in 1 tablespoon oil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the marsala wine and stir vigorously to release the fond or sticky juices on the bottom of the pan. In a small pan over very low heat, melt the goat’s cheese in the water, stirring frequently. Smear the bottom of the pastry crust with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Layer the Gruyère, then the onions and garlic, then the artichokes, then the peppers. Pour the melted goat’s cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.