Saturday, 17 March 2012

Plenty Of Paella

yotam ottolenghiAt Christmas, I noticed a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in the Sainsbury’s magazine for stuffed onions [see here] I never did try it out, but this week spotted a YO cook book in the library.

The 284 page book has 120 recipes and is lavishly illustrated. Many of the recipes are developed from ones used in Ottolenghi’s restaurant, and originally printed in the Guardian’s “New Vegetarian” column.

Ottolenghi plentyThe recipes owe much to his Mediterranean upbringing, and they are colourful to look at and I imagine they’re tasty as well. YO is not a vegetarian, so some dishes do have suggestions for cuts of meats which will go well with them.

I decided to try his Multi Vegetable Paella for an easy evening meal. Here’s the original version from the Guardian


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ Spanish onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red, green and yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • ½ fennel bulb, cut into strips
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 150g Calasparra rice
  • 100ml sherry
  • 1 tsp saffron strands
  • 500ml boiling vegetable stock
  • Sea salt
  • 12 mini plum tomatoes
  • 5 small grilled jarred artichokes, quartered
  • 300g podded broad beans, blanched and skinned
  • 10 pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • 4 lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oil in a paella or large, shallow frying pan, then gently fry the onion for five minutes. Add the peppers and fennel, and fry over medium heat until soft and golden - about eight minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the bay leaves and spices, stir, add the rice and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the sherry and saffron, boil down for a minute, then add the stock and a third of a teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat as low as it will go and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir: the low heat will prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and add salt if needed, but avoid stirring the rice and vegetables much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and beans over the rice, cover the pan tightly with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Take off the foil, scatter the olives on top, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.


Being the sort of cook who frequently gets to the kitchen with only a vague idea of what to cook, I had to improvise with some of the ingredients. I didn’t have any of the following

fennel, sherry, saffron, plum tomatoes, artichokes, broad beans.

I just ignored the first three, used regular salad tomatoes cut into eighths, and replaced the artichokes with courgette, and the broad beans with half a can of flageolet beans. And my olives were green, not big black Kalamatas – and I had some lemon slices [not wedges] from the freezer. Oh, and I have no idea about Calasparra rice – I just used my regular stuff. Mine looked like this


It tasted great – and there was enough for 3 portions [so one has gone into the fridge to serve as a side dish for two] We ate it with hunks of crusty bread. Don’t you love my big paella pan? It was a bargain from Aldi a few years back.

I haven’t finished reading the book yet [stuffed onions on p39, and this recipe is on p80, and I was so tired I fell asleep soon after that] but I imagine I shall want to try out others from the book.


  1. Yours looks lovely. I've never eaten paella as I don't like seafood, but I could eat this vege version! Thanks for posting it.

  2. Thanks for sharing your substitutes. I was mentally paling as I read the ingredient list - saffron seems to cost its weight in gold. The paella looks delicious and much more appealing than the mussel-covered variety.


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