Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Veggie Paella

Although it most certainly NOT a tapa, we included a vegetarian paella on our tapas challenge menu. Paellas tend to be the showcase entree at most Spanish restaurants, and Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, the inspiration for this challenge, is no exception! Unfortunately, there is no vegetarian option there, so I can't speak for how good their paellas are. Mostly, I really wanted to try my hand making a veg paella after seeing a recipe online from the USA Triathlon twitter page. It's got great sources of protein and carbs, making it a perfect staple for training!

Unfortunately, the USA Triathlon recipe was also not vegetarian, as was another paella recipe we acquired from Kargie's mom. So as a first draft for our own version of the dish, we combined features we liked from both recipes, and made vegetarian substitutions as necessary. The result turned out really well, considering most of the flavor from the original recipes came from their respective meat & seafood components. It was pretty easy to make, and in the future I'd like to try a making a healthier version by substituting either quinoa, brown rice, or other whole grain for the white rice. As a first version, though, I thought our paella was pretty darn successful!

Here's what we ended up doing:

Vegetarian Paella

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 16oz tub of chicken-style seitan, chopped
7oz vegan ham, small dice
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups white rice
2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
3 cups chicken-style vegetarian broth
½ cup dry white wine
½ teaspoon of saffron threads, OR ¼ teaspoon ground saffron
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add seitan chicken and veggie ham. Stir fry until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

2. Heat remaining oil. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper. Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add rice and paprika. Stir well. Cook 2 minutes.

4. Add broth, wine, saffron, cayenne, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Stir again, then simmer, covered, until rice is almost tender, about 14 minutes.

5. Stir in seitan chicken & veggie ham, frozen peas, and diced tomatoes. Mix well and cook on medium heat until peas are heated through.

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