Vegetable Paella

I’ve had my eye on Caroline’s Vegetable Paella recipe from TasteLoveandNourish.com for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a go.  She has wonderful plant-based recipes with tons of flavor.  Here is a link to her completely vegan original recipe. Caroline adds artichoke hearts to her, but I think it was fine without them.

Fortunately, I had almost all the ingredients in my pantry, and was able to make a few substitutions that worked well.  I don’t know about you, but during this time of social distancing and staying home, I’m learning to be much more creative!  I roughly halved her recipe since I’m only cooking for three right now.

Ingredients

1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 Tbsp hot water
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or bacon drippings (to add smokiness)
1 large onion, diced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used half regular button and half baby bellas)
2 big cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 very small zucchini, halved and sliced

1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/4 cups short-grain rice (I used Arborio)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes), drained
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1/4 cup big green Italian olives with pimentos,halved

handful fresh parsley
drizzle extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, pour hot water over the saffron. Set aside for at least fifteen minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Move a rack to the bottom third of your oven.

Keep the onion, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, spices (see below), rice, white wine, broth and saffron/water in bowls near the stove – you’ll be adding them separately and cooking them fairly quickly.

Heat the olive oil in a large oven safe skillet over medium high heat.
Add the onion and cook for just two minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook without stirring for about two minutes. Stir and cook for two more minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the zucchini slices and continue cooking for three minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the spices: paprika, smoked hot paprika, cayenne, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add to skillet, stir and cook for a minute or two.

Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add the white wine. Simmer until reduced by about half.
Add the vegetable broth and the saffron with the water. Stir gently and bring the pan to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Scatter tomatoes over the top.
Transfer the pan to the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
Scatter the peas, capers and the olives over the top.
Continue baking the paella for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Remove the bay leaves.
Garnish with fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Ground Turkey Fried Rice

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cup grated carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1-2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked brown rice chilled in the fridge (or 1 packet frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s, thawed)
1 tsp sesame oil

Garnishes

cilantro, rough chopped
green onions, sliced into little rings
sesame seeds
Sriracha
fresh limes, quartered
Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise (optional)

Instructions

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add eggs and scramble fairly quickly, chopping them as they cook. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add in turkey, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, and black pepper and saute for a few minutes, stirring to break up the meat.

Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin, and chili garlic sauce. Continue cooking until meat is no longer pink.

Stir in peas, scrambled eggs and brown rice and cook until heated through.

Drizzle with sesame oil and serve with garnishes. (Kewpie is our addition – Samir puts Kewpie on everything and I have to admit it was pretty delicious – but not strictly necessary.)

Note: I used an Indian Chili Garlic sauce which is hot, garlicky and a little sweet. If you can’t get Chilli Garlic sauce, substitute a blend of 1 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha, with 1/2 tsp brown sugar and 2 cloves of garlic, crushed. If you have fish sauce, add a 1/4 tsp of fish sauce, too.

Bok Choy, Eggplant and Peppers with Oyster Sauce

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Beautiful Bok Choy Photo by Jodie Morgan on Unsplash

We love baby bok choy and chinese eggplant.  When I saw them looking all fresh and delicious at the Asian market, I couldn’t resist.  I grabbed a beautiful red pepper, too and it made for a quick and easy supper.   The recipe is from foodandwine.com with a few tweaks of my own.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. baby bok choy, washed and patted dry
2 small Chinese eggplants* (about 1 ½” x 10″) halved and cut into ½” half circles
1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, cut into 1″ squares
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 big tsp chopped garlic (or two cloves fresh minced)
3 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 cups basmati or jasmine rice**
3 and 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

Rinse rice well and start cooking with water and salt on medium heat. Once it starts boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat oil on medium/high heat. You can use peanut oil or canola, but I had Olive oil handy so I just used that. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly.

Add bok choy and cook, moving it gently but constantly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.  Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add eggplants and peppers and continue cooking and tossing for another minute.

Add oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so until everything is warmed through. If the bottom of the pan is starting to brown too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and scrape up the bottom.

Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.

*You could probably substitute a small regular eggplant for the Chinese eggplants. Don’t think it would be the same without the Bok Choy. If you can only get regular bok choy, wash and pat it dry and then slice it into four quarters.

** Jasmine or another long grain rice would be great, but I always have basmati, so that’s what I used.

Basmati Rice

Making good rice is one of those things which seems like it should be easy, but is often a real challenge. I’ve made rice a million times and I always make it the same way. I use one cup of rice for 2-3 people, and 2 cups for 4-5 people. Be careful in adding the salt – you add one tsp for the first cup, but only  1/2 tsp more for 2 cups.

People are daunted by the idea of rinsing rice, but it’s easy.  Here’s how I do it:

Put 1 cup basmati rice in a sauce pan, and fill it about half full of warm water. Swirl the rice around with your hand.

Pour out most of the water, until the rice is just about to pour out. Cup your free hand loosely under the flow of water, with fingers slightly open so the water can drain through. That way you catch any rice that pours out, and just toss it back in the pan. Rinse and drain the rice one more time.

Add 1 7/8 cup of water  (just shy of two cups, basically), 1 tsp salt and 1 Tbsp of butter to the pan. (Butter is not traditional in Pakistan, but it is in New Orleans rice and we love the addition.)

Bring to a boil on the stove, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Just remember:  if you double the recipe, don’t double the salt. Just add 1/2 tsp salt for each additional cup of rice.

Delicious Variation:  Make rice with chicken broth and 1/2 cup frozen peas.

Kumy always adds 1″ of cinnamon, a green cardamom and a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Yum.