Paella seems to be in the news lately. Mark Bittman featured this vegetarian-friendly recipe a few weeks ago and I took note to recreate it for our August Supper with Strangers. Over the long weekend, a grilled version was featured in the Sunday Times Magazine.
I had time to test Bittman’s recipe, but I found it hard to cook the rice in under 30 minutes. I tried his way the first round using the oven but some parts remained undercooked. I felt like there was so much maintenance to make sure the rice was evenly cooked. For my second try, I left it on top of the stove but it still needed so much attention I just had no patience for it.
So for Supper, I committed the worst paella sin there could be and used a rice cooker to make sure the dish went well for six guests. It did: the rice was fluffy, not sticky, and I didn’t have to keep adding vegetable broth. The initial few cups I used kept it cooking with just a simmer. It’s almost blasphemous, I know, but the paella turned out well. I grilled some lamb chorizo to go with the dish and some thinly-sliced aubergines as a vegetarian alternate. I topped both versions with grilled tomato slices and poured over salted tomato pulp to make it moist.
4 cups of short-grain rice
1 pack of vegetable broth
1 large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps paprika
1 tbsp tomato paste
half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
oil, salt, pepper
1 eggplant, thinly sliced, seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled
1 rope of lamb chorizo, grilled, and then sliced
1. Heat a skillet and add some oil. Sauté garlic until golden brown. Add onions and cook until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in tomato paste and paprika and cook for another minute. Add rice, stirring constantly, making sure everything is well-combined.
2. Transfer everything to a rice cooker and add vegetable broth. Cook like you do white rice.
3. Five minutes from being done, when the rice has settled but there is still some broth simmering, top with tomato slices to cook in the remaining steam.
4. When cooked, turn off the rice cooker, stir the rice and sprinkle with parsley. Let sit in the cooker until ready to serve. Served with grilled chorizo or eggplants.