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February 12th, 2012 § 3 comments

Ever since I went to Spain last fall and tried some of the most amazing foods in the world under the heat of the Spanish sun, I’ve been obsessed.  Obsessed with the authentic flavours, the wine pairing…all of it.  It was a food and beverage experience I could re-live over and over again for eternity.

Real Spanish paella originated in the eastern coastal Spanish city of Valencia.  Paella exists because of rice, and rice has existed in Valencia and its surrounding area ever since the Moors planted it there over 1,300 years ago, in a lagoon called the Albufera.  The the grain is still grown in Albufera today.  The original Paella Valenciana dates to the early 1800s and consists of saffron-scented rice cooked with rabbit, chicken, local snails (vaquetes), and three types of beans: a broad string bean (ferraúra), a lima-like dried bean (garrofó), and a white bean (tavella).  We won’t be using any rabbit, snails or chicken here, but it helps that beans were part of this traditional recipe in bringing the vegan version to the table.

I have two great cookbooks in my collection, and between these two books there are three great recipes for Spanish paella.  Rick Stein’s Spain and a vegetarian cookbook, Plenty; Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi.  Many of the recipes I develop on this site are the result of taking a non-vegan classic and making it something amazing without the addition of animal product.  Because of this, I do have many non-vegan cookbooks in my collection to reference.  The photography and mood of these two books are very similar and have sparked some great ideas in my kitchen to take me back to that beach cafe in Marbella, without actually getting back on the plane (although I would go in a heartbeat if I had the chance!).  From these three recipes, I have developed my own version of paella.  Just imagine yourself in that little cafe on the boardwalk of Marbella, white wine in hand under the Spanish sun…

Serves 4
Prep time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes

olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, thinly chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cut into fine strips
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into fine strips
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup Calasparra rice (or other short grain paella rice)
1/2 cup spanish white wine or sherry
1 teaspoon of saffron threads
2 cups boiling vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups frozen edamame beans (or beans of your choice).  I prefer the firmness of the edamame beans.
12 cherry tomatoes halved
5 small grilled artichokes from oil in a jar, drained and quartered
15 pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Heat about 2 tablespoons in a paella pan and gently fry the onion for about five minutes.  Add the fennel and the bell peppers.  and saute for about six minutes, until the peppers are soft.  Add the crushed garlic and cook another minute or so.

Into a small dish, crumble the saffron between your fingers and pour about 2 tablespoons over water over the threads to release the flavour and colour.

Remove the beans from the freezer and set aside to de-thaw.

Add the bay leaf, paprika, tumeric and cayenne to the vegetables and stir well.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and add the stock.  As the stock begins to simmer, sprinkle the rice evenly throughout the pan and finish this withe saffron and hot water.  Reduce the heat to a mimimum, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed. DO NOT stir the rice as it cooks!

Remove from the heat and salt if necessary.  Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and beans over the rice and cover the pant tightly with foil.  Leave  to rest for 10 minutes.

Now that’s a taste of Spain in Vancouver…




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