heirloom tomatoes

vegetable paella

by Heguiberto on July 10, 2013

Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty attacks again! His vegetable paella is divine. It is full of color and flavors. If pilaf and paella have the same linguistic root, then I think this vegetable paella must be either an early progenitor of both or perhaps the modern trans-national child of the pair, as it not only uses saffron threads, but also turmeric and chili powders common to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines: incredible! And then there’s the sherry… Wow.

vegetable paella

vegetable paella

Yotam recommends using Calasparra rice but to be honest I have never heard of it before, so couldn’t even begin to think of where to find it. At any given time my rice pantry will always have few different varieties, so I made do with what I had. My choice was Thai jasmine rice. I selected this kind because I’ve made successful paella before with it. He also recommends using freshly shelled fava beans which would have been great but I was not able to find them in the market. Instead I substituted them for a fresh frozen shelled bag of edamame.

This dish is vegetarian and vegan. So flavorful, your meat eating loved ones will enjoy it too.

vegetable paella

6 tbsp olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 red pepper cut into strips
1 yellow pepper cut into strips
½ fennel bulb cut into thin strips
4 garlic cloves crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp chili powder (cayenne)
¾ cup sherry
1 container of saffron threads (0.020oz)
2 cups Thai Jasmine rice
3 ½ cups vegetable stock – hot
thin half-moon-shaped lemon slices
4 tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
8 halves of grilled artichokes, preserved in oil, drained
¾ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 pint of mixed small heirloom tomatoes, halved
~ 2tbsp chopped parsley
Kosher salt

You need a paella pan or a similar large shallow pan for the dish. On high heat, add olive oil followed by the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add sweet peppers and fennel and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Peppers and fennel will soften a bit but still hold their crunch.

Mix in turmeric, bay leaves, paprika. Add rice and mix it again so rice gets some coloring. Stir in saffron and sherry, continue to cook long enough for the sherry juices to be absorbed/evaporated. Add vegetable stock, and kosher salt to taste, lower the temperature and cook for about 18 minutes. Liquid will be almost fully absorbed by the rice. To prevent the rice from breaking refrain from stirring while cooking. Turn off the heat.

Tuck in olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, lemon slices, then sprinkle with parsley. Let rest, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid, drizzle with some extra virgin oil and serve.


mozzarella di buffala with heirloom tomatoes salad

mozzarella di buffala and heirloom tomatoes salad with fennel vinaigrette

This is another great recipe from “Plenty.” I’ve had salads like this before but I don’t remember ever having one with fennel seeds. I think they add a distinct touch of licorice flavor to the dish. While shopping for the ingredients make sure that you select the best cheese and that the tomatoes are the freshest, preferably vine ripened. We are lucky here in California as the heirloom tomato season has just arrived. Right now, they’re bursting with flavor. I got three types of heirlooms: yellow, red and chocolate-red. Delish.

mozzarella di buffala and heirloom tomatoes salad with fennel vinaigrette

4 medium sized, assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut into half moons
3 125gr containers mozzarella di buffala, cut into quarters
1 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded
Zest of ½ lemon
½ tsp fennel seeds
5 tbsp arbequina olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled, pressed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dry roast fennel seeds in skillet for a minute or so. Roughly crush them to release flavor. Transfer seeds to a small bowl. Add lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over cheese and let it rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Arrange cut tomatoes next to cheese, drizzle with a bit more olive oil and serve.

Happy summer!

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