Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vegan Paella

I never made paella before I became a vegan. I would see the recipes and think, ooh, that sounds good! But I never actually got around to making it. I'm glad now, because that's one less dish with meat that ever got made. It still amazes me at the wealth of recipes that can be made vegan. Kind of exciting, really!

Vegan Paella

Four cups uncooked rice, cooked in whatever fashion you prefer
One bag frozen cut green beans
One bag frozen petite green peas
Olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/3 c. raw cashews
One red bell pepper, diced
One green bell pepper, diced
One can diced tomatoes
One container vegan plain yogurt or sour cream
Salt to taste
A dash of: cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, ground cloves

Saute in the olive oil the onions, bell peppers, cashews and garlic. Add tomatoes and yogurt, stir to mix well. Add green beans and peas and two cups of water. Bring to a boil, add spices, reduce to simmer and cook until everything is well blended, about 20 minutes. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Serve. Enjoy!

Paella is actually a cooking utensil, similar to a flat frying pan with handles on both sides. Peasants of Valencia would use the pot to cook rice, and add in available ingredients. It evolved depending on the cook's inspiration. Rice originated in Asia and, along with pasta, was brought to the Mediterranean by the Moors. When the Moors invaded Spain, they brought both products with them. The Moorish casseroles of rice and fish established the custom of eating rice in Spain. By the 15th century, when Spanish Catholics expelled the Muslims from Spain, rice had become a national staple.

Paella traditionally is made with saffron. Saffron grows wild in Spain, and not only gives a rich and unique flavor to the rice, but a deep yellow color as well.

You will note I did not add saffron to my paella. Feel free to add it if you like. Saffron comes in threads (expensive) or powdered (cheaper). I do very much like saffron rice and may do that the next time I make this dish.

You can use fresh green beans and tomatoes in this dish if you like, but I'm about quick, easy and convenient. I also used spices common in garam masala. You can use that in place of the spices, too, if you'd like. So, play around with it and make it yours!

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