I absolutely love Paella (pronounced pie-AY-a). I love Spanish culture–the food–the wine–the flamenco dancing–the passion. Traditionally, Paella was made by agricultural laborers in Valencia, a region on the East cost of Spain. It was cooked over an open fire in the fields using a mixture of rice, snails and veggies (beans) in a pan over an open fire . Paella, was all about community, and everyone ate it right out of the pan! Those who had more money, added chorizo and chicken, and seafood didn’t get added until the late 18th century.
The dish was actually a “rice and beans” dish, with butter beans,and runner beans, which were replaced by artichokes in the winter, plus tomatoes. The spices included garlic, pimentòn (sweet paprika), rosemary, saffron and salt; the dish was cooked in olive oil. It has evolved into literally one of the most popular dishes in Spain and the world over.
So, I have a great recipe for Quinoa Vegetable Paella. Sort of an adaptation of the original recipe, for those who don’t want shellfish, chicken and rice. It’s a healthier version…
1 onion, chopped
3 – 4 cloves of crushed garlic
1 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
1/4 tsp. saffron
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika (important that you use the Spanish version)
Dash cayenne pepper
1 14- ounce can diced tomatoes
1 red or yellow pell pepper, chopped
1 14-ounce can yellow, orange or red bell pepper, chopped
1 14-ounce can light red garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups cups vegetable broth
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 package fresh or frozen peas
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into quarters
1 jar green olives, drained
Salt & Pepper to taste
Make the quinoa according to directions. In a deep skillet, saute the onion and the garlic in a deep non-stick skillet in olive oil until soft. Add the quinoa and saffron and cook, stirring for another 2 minutes. Now add remaining vegetables, except the zucchini, along with the 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth and the seasonings. Bring it all to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cook uncovered for approximately 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, check to see if more broth is needed. If it looks dry, add the remaining vegetable broth. Place zucchini on top of the quinoa and re-cover. Cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through and the quinoa is done. Remove the cover, stir in the peas and cook uncovered until the peas are warm and all of the liquid is absorbed. Arrange the artichoke hearts on the very top and serve.
Healthy and delicious!