After a long hosting stint, it was nice to be invited to have dinner with friends. It was a good, avid-meat-eating friend's birthday, and the meal was to be cooked by his wife, whose cuisine leans a lot on her Argentinian heritage. I asked what to bring, and our host said she was planning on tapas and paella. I assumed the paella would be roaming with little creatures that are far more glorious dancing in the water than killed and cooked in rice, and so made stuffed mushrooms and hummus and brought those with me in addition to the wine.
I underestimated my friends' kindness and consideration. Our host walked us through the tapas; there were charcuterie and cheese and shrimp, but also olives, mushrooms, marcona almonds and a nice bread. And then the piece-de-resistance was brought out: a vegan paella, chock full of colorful bell peppers and decorated with artichoke globes! What an enjoyable meal. For dessert, she made tiramisu, but quietly placed a little platter of fresh apple slices and nuts near us.
Fortunately, our friends were gracious enough to let me photograph the gorgeous piece-de-resistance and give me the recipe (from the book Paella Paella). You'll need a large paella pan - characterized by its size and flat base
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, minced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups arborio rice (if I were to make this at home, I'd probably switch to short-grain brown rice, like sukoyaka genmai, and increase the broth amount to 5-6 cups)
1 small red pepper, cut into strips
1 small yellow pepper, cut into strips
1 small green pepper, cut into strips
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
2 cups artichoke hearts, tough leaves removed, and quartered
Heat oil in paella pan and saute onion and garlic. Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer in a separate pot. Pour the rice into the paella pan and saute for 3 minutes. Add peppers and tomatoes and saute for an additional 3 minutes. Add the simmering broth to the pan and cook for 20 more minutes, or until almost tender and most liquid has been absorbed (note that you might have to rotate the pan if your burners don't line up under the whole thing). Stir in the peas. Then, sprinkle artichoke hearts with lemon and arrange in an attractive pattern on top of the paella. Continue cooking until tender and all liquid is absorbed.