Traveling the world through cuisine

Feliz Año Nuevo from the Sunny Coast

Cooking paella over an open fire

HAPPY NEW YEAR! For as much fun as the holidays are in regards of food, family, and gifting, I'll admit it's just as wonderful to cross over the January 1st mark and get back into the routine of life...maybe with a few tweaks to improve said life.

With that said, I think the beautiful Mediterranean Costa Del Sol of Spain is the ideal inspiration of how to kick off 2015 with a healthy and flavorful feast. It's so easy to lose yourself in the warm sun and relaxed lifestyle of the region, as it fills my mind whenever I face a cold dreary winter day in Chicago.

Up and down the coast are loads of charming outdoor eateries like Ayo's where they cook big pans of paella over an open fire. The chicken and seafood Paella Mixta is usually on the menu, but I've recently been turned on to a lighter variation of this Spanish feast that is easy to make and wonderful for good health.

Back in the fall, local chef and caterer Nicole Shubalis of Le Koko Cuisine had posted a beautiful vegetable paella on her Instagram account. I was awestruck and inspired to make one of my own. It did strike me humorously that I never bothered to think of this Spanish feast without the meat, but now I think it’s a wonderfully light dish for the New Year.

The snow and cold can rage outside, but this light and flavorful paella vegetariana will take you to the sunny warmth of the Costa Del Sol anytime you enjoy it. May your 2015 be full of flavor.

Paella Vegetariana

Paella Vegetariana

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp of paprika
  • 5 - 10 strands of saffron
  • 3-4 zucchini, cubed
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 3 roasted red peppers, sliced into small pieces
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups of short-grain rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In your chosen pan, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Place the onion and garlic into the oil and sauté until the onions are soft and garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add in the bell peppers and continue cooking until soft.
  4. Season the mixture with paprika, saffron, salt, and pepper.
  5. Add in the zucchini, tomatoes, and roasted red peppers.
  6. Pour in the vegetable stock, then add the rice. Stir it all up.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and simmer.
  8. Continue simmering until the rice is done, adding in more stock or water as needed.

Variations

In reality, you can make your Paella Vegetariana with any combinaton of vegetables you desire. Many will add artichoke hearts or even white beans. It's entirely up to your imagination.

You can use chicken stock if you prefer. I went with vegetable to keep it truly vegan.

Tags: paella, rice, Spanish, vegetable

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