Vegetarian Paella

We had some good friends over for dinner on Sunday and I made up a big batch of veggie paella.  I’ve been working on this recipe and it came out really well so I thought I’d share it.  I make a big batch and really throw a lot of this together by sight, so add stuff, take stuff out, whatever you want as you start to put it all together.

First, we make some sofrito:
1 Vidalia onion thinly sliced.
1 bulb of fresh fennel, also thinly sliced.
1 can of small diced tomatoes–of course fresh if you’re able/have the time, but canned works pretty well.
2-3 cloves of garlic.
Saute the onions and fennel and garlic until translucent. Add a cup of white wine and let cook down. Then add some veggie stock, the tomatoes and a pinch of saffron. Let it simmer while you fix the rest.

For the rice:
Saute a can of quartered artichoke hearts in olive oil.
Add about 3 cups of arborio rice and cook until the rice starts to turn translucent.
Add a pinch of saffron and some white wine.
Now, slowly add sofrito to the rice and stir, adding other ingredients as you go.
I add about a cup of sofrito at a time and let the rice absorb it before adding more.
While you’re slowly cooking the rice, put 4 cubed Boca Italian sausages in another pan with some olive oil. Let them cook until they’re nice and brown–you can add them to the rice at any time once they’re done.
You’ll also add chopped black olives and some capers–as much as you want.
After the sausage, I put a bag of Qorn tenders in the same pan I did the sausage and let them get nice and brown then add them to the rice as well.
Add a bag of peas to the rice as well, asparagus too if you like (as much as you want).
After the Qorn, I use the same pan to saute a big batch of shiitake mushrooms (again, as much as you want) until they’re brown and toss them in the mix.
Keep adding sofrito until the rice is cooked–and if the rice doesn’t fully cook you can continue adding water until it’s al dente.
I know the directions sound kind of loose–but really it’s a process of slowly adding sofrito/water to the rice mix until it’s done and then keep adding whatever ingredients you want. It makes a big pot of rich goodness.  As it finishes up, the rice will get a crust to the bottom that’s really good, dont’ worry about it sticking a bit.
I like to add chopped roasted red peppers and tons of parsley as I dish it up in a big family-style bowl.

Of course, good music helps.  I know this is Spanish food, but I find some good New Orleans jazz works really well.

Finally, a crusty baguette is a must and some Spanish Rioja and/or a Belgian double or triple really work well to top it off.

I really should have taken a picture of the big bowl of paella ’cause the colors in the end are amazing, the green asparagus, the saffron yellow, and the rich red peppers really snap–as one of the chefs I used to cook with would say, “Ah, just like in the magazine.”  But alas I didn’t think about pictures until we’d eaten it up. Next time I guess.

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