Creamy Coconut Lentils

Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

I will make this short and sweet…thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you for making my dream/goal of running my very own food blog a successful reality in 2013. I appreciate your support and encouragement so much. It’s a beautiful thing when you have an idea and it comes to life!

I am pretty sure 2013 had been my most eventful year of my life. Lots of ups (a few lows) and I am grateful for all of it. This blog has definitely been like a journal for me. A journal through food and photography 😉

My favourite dish combination has to be rice and beans…or PULSE and beans, if you will. I probably have a dozen variations that I make continuously and yet somehow my brain always think they are different. It is no surprise that dishes like this have been eaten globally for tens of thousands of years. It just works. Every time.

Wait…I may have just decided on a theme for my first cookbook 😉

“101 Ways to make Rice and Beans” or “Pulsating Beans”…a work in progress!

It is a meal in itself with only a few ingredients needed. In fact this particular recipe only requires about 4 ingredients plus a few spices.  And on these cold winter nights nothing satisfies they way this hearty dish can.

IMG_6213

 

For a slight variation it is fantastic with baked zucchini (I simply cut the zucchini lengthwise and bake at 350 for about 20 min with a little olive oil and sea salt)…yum!

IMG_6217

I hope and trust that the close of the past year is joyous and reflective for all of you!

Here’s to 2014 and all of the wonderful food possibilities.

Cheers.

Creamy Coconut Lentils

Serves 4-6

Prep Time 20-25 mins

Ingredients

4 cups cooked coconut jasmine rice (cook as per instructions using coconut water instead of regular water and then finish with 2 tbsp coconut oil once fully cooked)

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups of dry red lentils

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

1 tsp tumeric

1- 400 ml can of coconut milk

sea salt to taste

handful of chopped cilantro

2 tbsp sriracha (optional)

  • Bring vegetable broth and lentils to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Then reduce heat to low and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Approx. 15 mins
  • Add garlic powder, cumin, coriander, tumeric and salt. Stir to combine and then add coconut milk. Heat for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Scoop creamy lentils over the coconut rice and finish with sriracha and cilantro. Easy peasy!

IMG_6208

Indian Dahl Stew

Looking back at my blog posts I am shocked that I have yet to post an East Indian inspired recipe! I mean, how is that even possible really!?!

Indian dishes are some of my all-time favourite meals. I love all the spices and veggies and pulses and coconut milks and…holy moly I think I might be drooling 🙂

IMG_5966

With September Sexy Soups still going strong I am grateful for the abundance of fresh vegetables we have available at this time of year. Summer squash and root vegetables make me wanna stock up on chopped wood and sterilize mason jars for canning…FYI, I don’t do either of those, I’m just saying I get an ERG 🙂

This week I hosted a small Indian Feast for my friends. I worked all morning prepping my dahl, chopping veggies and baking naan (and by baking I mean re-heating) so come dinner time I could sit back and enjoy without the last minute rush that usually comes along  with hosting a dinner.

This stew is simple and straight forward. Not alot of messing around. Throw everything into a heavy-bottomed saucepan or dutch oven and slowly cook all the flavours until your guests have arrived and the wine is open.

Split peas are a great low-fat source of protein and are high in fibre. They are dried peas that have been mechanically split along a natural seam, so that they cook faster. You can buy either green or yellow split peas and either color can be used to make this dahl stew.

IMG_6001

I like to serve this with a few other Indian inspired dishes like coconut jasmine rice (simply use coconut water instead of regular water to cook the rice), samosas and naan bread.  Oh and loads of cilantro! This dahl is even better the next day so make the full size batch of my recipe below and you will have plenty for lunches or late night snackin’…not that I do that 😉

IMG_5999

Indian Dahl Stew

Prep Time: 50 mins

Serves: a small village

Ingredients:

2 cups split yellow peas, uncooked

6 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 med onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 cups veggies, chopped (carrots, zucchini, eggplant)

2 inch grated fresh ginger

2 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp tumeric

2 tsp mustard podwer

1 tsp cumin

2 -14oz cans diced tomatoes

1- 14oz can coconut milk

1 dropper of stevia

2 tsp Herbamare (or sea salt)

2 tsp sriracha (optional, add more or less depending on your heat preference)

A whole bunch of chopped cilantro

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven add 4 cups of broth and split peas and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 mins.
  • Meanwhile, in a large frying pan heat coconut oil and sauté onions and garlic for about 5-7 mins. Toss in chopped veggies and cook them for another 10 mins or so.
  • combine veggies with split peas in large pot. Add remaining ingredients (except for cilantro) including 2 more cups of vegetable broth.

IMG_5976

  • Simmer on medium-low heat for approx. 25 mins
  • Top with fresh cilantro and serve immediately with your favourite Indian East side dishes

IMG_5994

Spicy Paella Soup

I cannot even express how appreciative I am of all the new foodies I have been introduced to through Vegan MoFo over the past week. It’s a beautiful thing to see so many people from all parts of the world, share in the love of plant-based food. It not only feels like a celebration of vegan food but also a movement! So lets keep it going 🙂

In the past I have been vocal about my deep-rooted love of Spain and I thought it was time to revisit that intriguing part of the world (if only through our taste buds) for this weeks Sexy September Soups!

IMG_5915

Where I live the summer weather is still very much here but there are also a few rainy days in the forecast and a spicy bowl of Spanish goodness makes for a perfect meal. Tucked into your favorite chair with a blanket and a good book while the season changes around you, this soup works for a slow lunch or a relaxing dinner…or both, like a did yesterday 🙂

Choosing a vegan lifestyle is never about focusing on what you “cannot” eat but more about exploring all of the incredible foods that you have to choose from. It is also about compassion for others and making decisions to not put your own temporary satisfaction above others discomfort. Funnily enough, this week I found myself extending those beliefs into other parts of my life. It seems to me that when you align all parts of your life then what you eat, or who you love, or what you wear all become the same expression of who you are.  So I guess I’m feeling  spicy this week because I made my Spicy Paella Soup very hot, adding way more sriracha than my recipe called for 😉

Tomatoes are to be celebrated this time of year so nothing is better than a tomato-based soup. Seasonal ingredients just feel good for the soul. This soup is a perfect example of all the delicious foods that are available this time of year and all the wonderful choices that are available when you choose a plant-based diet.

Hasta pronto amigos 🙂

IMG_5905

Spicy Paella Soup

Serves 4-6 amigos

Prep Time: Approx 45 mins

Ingredients:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 small zucchini, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

2- 14 oz cans of high-quality diced tomatoes

4 cups mushroom (or vegetable stock)

1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

1 tbsp ground up sea vegetables (I use a combo of nori & dulse pulsed in a small food processor)

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup frozen peas

4 artichoke hearts, cut into quarters (for this recipe I use artichokes from a jar)

2 tsp sriracha (optional for added heat)

Salt & Pepper to taste

2-3 cups of Lemon Saffron Rice (see recipe below)

  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan and add onions. Cook for approx. 7-10 mins until onions are slightly brown. Add garlic, zucchini and red pepper to pan and cook for another 10-12 mins.
  • Add in tomatoes, mushroom stock, paprika, sea veggies, and red pepper flakes and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
  • Reduce heat and add the frozen peas and artichokes. Simmer for 10 mins.

IMG_5892

  • Remove from heat and serve with Lemon Saffron Rice.

IMG_5906

Lemon Saffron Rice

Ingredients:

2 cups jasmine rice

2 cups vegetable stock

2-4 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms

1 tsp saffron threads

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 2 lemons

salt and pepper to taste

  • Cook rice according to instructions using vegetable stock instead of water. Add the mushrooms and saffron into the stock prior to cooking
  • When rice is cooked, toss in the olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Set aside.

IMG_5896

Avocado Sushi Bowl

One of my very favorite foods is sushi. Unfortunately for me, I am not very good at rolling sushi!

If I have to I can, but it requires a tremendous amount of focus and patience for me to build a solid sushi roll. And plus I don’t really enjoy it as much if it does not look pretty…it changes the flavour somehow 😉 So one night before dinner I was craving sushi and wasn’t excited about having to call in an order, then wait for it to get here. There has to be an easier way, I thought!

I started to think about what sushi feels like and tastes like in your mouth, because lets face it, other than the presentation that is all that really matters when it comes to food! So that is how it started for this recipe, I just decided to throw all the ingredients of my favorite sushi roll into a bowl… a deconstructed sushi roll, if you will.

IMG_2543

Of course you can modify this dish to represent your favorite sushi very easily but for me it has to include avocados! The sweet, buttery, dense texture of avocado transports me into a mini vacation. There is not a sandwich, rice bowl or tortilla chip in the world that doesn’t benefit from having an avocado near by. It is one of those perfect whole foods that falls into its own category, a “special” fruit. The avocado shares this category with only the olive, the kiwi, the persimmons and the pomegranate. However in alot of ways the avocado is more like a nut than a fruit, with its high amount of oil and its dense concentration. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat which is easily burned for energy, this is considered a healthy fat! They are also a good quality carbohydrate and protein, contain a substantial amount of B vitamins and are a good source of Vitamin C and A. Everything your body needs. Awesome for your skin, your hair, and most importantly, your brain!

And because I cannot be “good” all the time, I like to indulge in a little vegetable tempura with my sushi. It is a simple and quick thing to make at home with only a couple of ingredients to use with which ever fresh vegetable you have available. I use a straight forward recipe given by Masato Nishihara, the executive chef of Kajitsu, an elegant vegan Japanese restaurant in New York City. He believes that the best tempura batter is in its most traditional form, without eggs. Here is his method for fantastic tempura;

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1/2 cup or as needed for dipping
  1. Pour oil into a large wok or pot so that the oil is two inches deep. Heat over medium-high heat until oil is 350 degrees. Set aside a baking sheet with a rack lined with paper towels, and a small long-handled fine-meshed strainer for removing excess fried batter.
  2. Pour 1 cup ice-cold water into a medium bowl. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour, and whisk to blend lightly. Place about 1/2 cup cake flour into another bowl. Dip each slice of vegetable into dry flour, shake off excess, and then dip each slice of vegetable into the batter.
  3. Fry the vegetables in batches to be sure they are not crowded. Place 4 to 5 vegetable pieces in the oil and fry, turning once or twice, until golden and crisp, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Using the long-handled strainer, remove excess bits of fried batter to keep the oil clean. Transfer to the baking sheet to drain. Continue until all the vegetables are fried.

IMG_5539

So I hope you also enjoy this simple summer recipe, and trust me, your mouth will never know the difference!

ボナペティ
Bonapeti
Avocado Sushi Bowl
Serves: 4-6 people
Prep Time: 30 mins
Ingredients:
2 cups uncooked jasmine or sushi rice, cook according to directions
2 ripe avocados, remove peel and pit, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 med cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp wasabi powder (or more depending on your preferences)
2 tbsp finely ground nori sheets
a handful of cilantro
2 tbsp soy sauce (or a great alternative is Coconut Aminos)
Garnish with pickled ginger, optional
IMG_5526
  • Toss all ingredients, except the rice, into a large bowl and combine. Set aside until you are ready.

IMG_5528

  • Once your rice is cooked (or sometimes I like to prep it earlier in the day and leave it at room temperature), I quickly fry the tempura vegetables and place it altogether in a bowl and top with some pickled ginger.

IMG_5542

Pad Thai

images

Happy Mother’s Day!

The day has arrived again, when everyone lets their mothers know how much they love them and appreciate them. The funny thing is that most mothers already understand how much they are needed and loved on a daily basis because if we didn’t then we wouldn’t do what we do! But it’s nice to be reminded. This is the most unique and powerful relationship one can have in their life…for good or bad 😉 A two-way street that somehow generally only feels like a one-way! And the payoff simply comes from being called Mom. 

IMG_5213

I like to think of motherhood as a long-term investment. Most days I’m the mom that doesn’t serve bacon, that has weird greens growing the fridge, that didn’t buy the “good” cereal on my shopping trip, and is totally annoying for serving new foods that don’t look familiar! I am that mom. Some days it feels like I am pushing against a brick wall and then other days, like when I see my kids eating greens or when they get excited that the avocados are ripe enough to eat, I think that maybe I am making some progress. It helps me to sleep at night to assume one day they will look back and understand that aside from wanting to nurture their bodies and fuel their brains, that one day they will also understand that I am simply doing the best with what I know. Making a tonne of mistakes along the way.

This week I am stepping out of my comfort zone. Into the unknown. Okay, perhaps a bit dramatic…I am testing out a new ingredient and a new recipe! I have been wanting to try kelp noodles for a very long time since I have read all about the health benefits and how easy they are to use. I am not sure what has held me back but now that I have tried them, nothing could keep me away! I am in love.

IMG_5208

The texture is almost unexplainable. Kelp noodles have the familiarity of a rice noodle with a surprise crunch of a lettuce. They soak up which ever sauce you submerge them in without loosing any of the crunch. I am familiar with dried kelp and so I assumed that the noodle would have the same “fishy”  flavour but I was wrong…no fishy flavour at all!

There is almost too much information on the benefits of kelp noodles for me to sum up articulately so I did a little digging and found this fantastic summary supplied by www.rawguru.com

What Exactly Are Kelp Noodles?

Kelp is a kind of seaweed, or algae, that grows in the ocean. To create kelp noodles, which are raw and very white, almost clear, in appearance, the clear substance that holds the individual pieces of kelp together are harvested. Though the noodles are not made from the entirety of the algae, they are packed with the same nutrients that have made kelp a popular ingredient among health-conscious individuals.

Although they can be treated much like regular noodles, kelp noodles may need to be marinated before use. They are naturally crisp, and by marinating them in citrus juice or vinegar you can enhance their texture without having to cook them.

Here are some of the great things kelp noodles can supply to your body:

  • Over 70 nutrients and minerals, including iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, among others
  • Vitamins, including B6
  • Over 21 amino acids
  • Improved thyroid function from iodine
  • Stronger bones from calcium and magnesium
  • Alleviation of menstrual cramps and premenstrual symptoms, as well as a few cases of arthritis, through calcium and magnesium
  • Folic acid, which protects the circulatory system
  • Anti-inflammatory properties, due to the magnesium
  • Absorption of radioactive materials and heavy metals through phytochemicals
  • Polysaccharides, which provide antifungal and antibacterial properties
  • Supported memory health
  • Decrease of allergies

So why do we not eat them regularly?  Probably because trying something new can be intimidating. Not wanting to waste your money or scare the children 😉  It’s worth the risk, just re-read the list above and realize all of the ways that your body will thank you. You will find this product refrigerated and usually close to the produce section. Of course, the sweet and tangy peanut sauce is the real killer  in this dish so substitute which ever noodles you wish, such as rice noodles. If you are keeping it raw then you can bang this recipe out in about 15 mins and on these hot spring days it makes dinnertime more enjoyable for everyone.

If this post does nothing else but make you feel a tiny bit better as a mom (by understanding how much I torture my kids) then that would make be happy. But if it makes you drive to your grocery store and ask the awkward teenager in the produce section where you can find the kelp noodles, then you have made my day!

Enjoy.

IMG_5235

Tangy Pad Thai

Prep time: approx. 15 mins

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients for the sauce:

1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter

1-400ml can of coconut milk

2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp tamari (you can substitute soy sauce or my new fav coconut aminos)

1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp dried chili flakes

2 shakes of hot sauce (optional)

juice of 1 lime

IMG_5206

Ingredients  for the pad thai:

1 package (15 oz) kelp noodles

1 red pepper, thinly julienned

1 cup shredded red cabbage

4 green onions, sliced

1/4 fresh chopped cilantro

  • In a high-speed blender, blend all sauce ingredients until smooth. If you are heating your sauce then use a saucepan and slowly bring to a low boil and stir regularly.

IMG_5217

  • In a colander, rinse kelp noodles, shake dry and transfer to a serving bowl. Add in red pepper, cabbage and green onions.
  • Add sauce and toss gently to combine. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

IMG_5230

Mushroom Quinoa Risotto

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” 
― Julia Child

Sometimes (just sometimes) the best recipes come about by way of accident or experimentation. This week I have had the pleasure of hosting two lovely house guests and in an effort to impress them I was going to make a dish that wins over everyone’s heart…RISOTTO! 

But then I started thinking, as much as I love the starchy, creamy yumminess of white rice maybe I could step it up a level and add more nutrients and perhaps maybe even some protein…sans meat of course 😉

I set out on a task of finding the perfect recipe in my small library of cookbooks. I flipped through my “go-to” vegetarian bibles and was utterly shocked to not find any quinoa risotto recipes. I am sure there are some out there but I couldn’t find any in my books and I even have cookbooks with the word Quinoa in the title!!!

By now we all know the incredible nutritional benefits of quinoa: the only complete protein (meaning it contains all 8 essential amino acids, including lysine) outside of animal protein. Several whole foods contain protein but only quinoa has everything you need for protein absorption in this one ingredient. Along with being high in protein it also contains excellent sources of iron, calcium and B vitamins. And as an added bonus, its gluten-free! Mother Nature made no mistakes on this Central American grain!

But getting back to my accidental experiment, the results of my quinoa risotto were well received and so therefore I am sharing my lab notes (aka recipe) with you. Traditionally, a risotto requires a few months of pot-stirring along with a sore arm but since we are not trying to slowly pull out the starchiness with quinoa, you are free to do other things while making your dinner…like pour a glass of wine 😉

I know I usually sign off my blog with “Enjoy!” but this time I really mean it!

Enjoy the beauty of this perfect superfood, enjoy its creamy, nutty flavour, and enjoy the guilt-free consumption because it doesn’t get much better than this.

IMG_5125

Mushroom & Asparagus Quinoa Risotto

Serves: 4-6 people (as a main dish)

Prep Time: Approx. 40 mins

Ingredients:

4 cups of Vegetable broth (+ 2 cups of water)

7-10 pcs dried mushrooms (I used Shiitake & Porcini)

1″ chunk of fresh ginger, peeled

1 tbsp wheat-free tamari (or soy sauce)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried chili flakes

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

8 oz cremini mushrooms (or 10-15 mushrooms), thinly sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 cups of quinoa, rinsed and drained

10-12 asparagus stalks, cut in 1/4″ circles

2 tbsp Earth Balance

Truffle salt (optional)

Methodology:

  • First start with the broth. It is the heart and soul of this dish (as I have said before, its very important to get it right). Add your broth, water, dried mushrooms, ginger, tamari, garlic, chill flakes, thyme and bring to a gentle boil. Once it is boiling add in the chopped asparagus to cook. Reduce to simmer and leave it until you are ready to add to the quinoa. Make sure to taste the broth a few times to ensure the flavour, you may need to add a touch of sea salt.

IMG_5105

  • Using a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat on medium and add coconut oil. Then toss in onions and cook for about 5 mins or until translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and cooked for another 5 mins or until most of the moisture is gone from the pot. Then use the wine to deglaze the pot and simmer for other minute.
Quinoa (even organic quinoa) has a saponin (soaplike) coating and it is important to rinse this off before cooking.

Quinoa (even organic quinoa) has a saponin (soaplike) coating and it is important to rinse this off before cooking.

  • After you have rinsed & drained the quinoa add to the pot and stir.  Slowly add the broth mixture one ladle at a time and stir. I like to remove the asparagus tips from the broth before adding to quinoa to use as a garnish (but if you are not that fancy don’t worry about it :-)) Raise the heat to med-high to get a low boil and then reduce back down to med-low and cover with lid. You want to cook the quinoa until all liquid has been absorbed, this should take approx. 20 mins. Be sure to check a few times throughout and give it a stir.
  • Once quinoa is cooked, add the butter and truffle salt. Gentle stir and replace lid. Let sit for 5-10 mins. Then consume immediately!

IMG_5122

Artichoke Paella

IMG_4409

Hola Amiga! When it comes to countries, I am slightly obsessed with one in particular, Spain. I love the architecture, the people and of course, their food. I love that in many parts of the country they still live off their land and use family recipes that have been around since food was invented. This country really loves its food. However probably not the convenient, processed foods that have infiltrated our country. In fact, I would venture to guess that word “organic” does not enter their vocabulary very often…because it’s just what is! You would think that I have been to this country! Not yet…we have a long distance relationship until I get an apartment in Paris and a summer villa in Bilbao :-). Until then I am content to study their culture and “steal” their recipes (or at least interpret them).  I have a small arsenal of authentic Spanish ingredients that I use even in non-traditional Spanish dishes, but it fills my heart with joy when I can pull them out for my most favourite dish, paella. These ingredients are not always available at your local grocery store but require a special trip to a store that takes pride in genuine Spanish and/or Italian grocery items. Paella should be made with lots of patience and a little bit of love…or is it the other way around?

IMG_4375

Now in the spirit of sharing, I have another small obsession in the “people” category and that is Mrs. Gwyneth Paltrow. If you are a fan of food, travel, fashion, gardening or any other perk of life, then you must checkout her site www.goop.com. She is just so darn likeable and everything she touches seems to be perfection. The reason I bring her into the conversation is because my original Paella recipe came from her amazing cookbook My Father’s Daughter. This is one of my favorite cookbooks (and I have ALOT of cookbooks). It is not a meatless cookbook but has numerous veg options as well as vegetarian recipes. As I mentioned, my original version of this recipe came from this book but has evolved into a slightly different version. I like my paella a little “wetter” than Mrs. Paltrow’s version.

IMG_4398

It is important for the well being of our planet and our bodies to use ingredients that are seasonal. Lucky for us it’s March and that means artichoke season as begun! You may have noticed them popping up in your grocery store recently and it’s our responsibility to use them to the best of our abilities. Artichokes are considered to be a vegetable flower (not to be confused with flowering vegetables) along with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Vegetable flowers are actually the early part of the potential flower of the plant, picked and eaten before they progress into a “real” flower. Artichokes are the flower of a thistle plant that is beautiful when left to fully flower. They are a good source of fiber, low in calories (if not drenched in butter or mayonnaise) and pretty well endowed with folic acid and potassium. Artichokes are also considered to be useful in detoxifying the body. Explanation: Making bile is one of the liver’s main ways of eliminating toxins. For this reason, increasing bile flow is helpful in detoxifying. Artichoke leaves help increase bile flow therefore making them liver cleansers that can be instrumental in detoxifying.

Here is a small instructional tip that I found recently that I thought might help any “artichoke-impaired” chefs out there;

IMG_1960

So dig out your favourite artichoke recipe or treat your yourself to this amazing Mediterranean dish chalked full of delicious vegetables. This dish is fantastic for entertaining for a couple of reasons; it looks amazing and  you can prep alot of steps ahead of time and simply pop it into the oven when your guests arrive (and the time in between allows you to clean up your kitchen and yourself !)

If you do it properly then you should be able to smell and see (close your eyes!) Spain’s rolling hills and the salty ocean air.

Hasta la proxima!

(Until next time!)

IMG_4395

Artichoke Paella

Serves 6-8 people

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock

6-8 pieces dried mushrooms (ie. porcini or shiitake)

2 pieces dried Wakame

6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

Large pinch of saffron

2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 yellow onion, diced

2 sm. or 1 lrg. zucchini, diced

1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced

1 can (398ml) crushed tomatoes

2 cups Bomba rice (if you cannot find Bomba rice then short-grain white rice will work too)

3 artichokes, trimmed & steamed for 20 mins, cut in quarters

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

2-3 lemons, cut into wedges

Paprika Aioli (prep by mixing 3/4 cup of Veganaise, or your choice of mayonnaise, with 1 tsp smoked paprika, plus salt to taste)

*Begin with the broth. Combine vegetable stock, dried mushrooms, dried wakame, garlic, saffron and paprika in a medium sized pot.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to med-low and simmer until broth is needed (about 20-25 mins).

Tip#1: The broth is the heart and soul of this dish so taste it throughout cooking and ensure that it has a vibrant and salty flavour for the rice to soak up.

IMG_4415

*Start your paella pan by heating the olive oil and add the chopped onions (if you do not have a traditional paella pan, then a large heavy-bottom frying pan will work great). Sauté onions until golden brown. Depending on your pan this could take up to 15 mins, paella pans tend to cook quicker.

Tip#2: I once took a Paella cooking class and the instructor emphasized that cooking the onions sufficiently is crucial to a great paella to bring out their natural sweetness…so don’t rush this step.

* While you are waiting for the onions, start trimming and steaming your artichokes…or if you are using canned/jarred artichokes then just remove the lid 😉 and set aside.

*When onions look well cooked, toss in zucchinni and sauté for 5 mins. Then add bell peppers and cook for 2-3 mins more. Pour in tomatoes and heat through.

Tip#3: If you are hosting a dinner party then you can stop after this step and set everything aside until you are ready to place in the oven. But allow a longer cooking time in the oven because ingredients will have cooled down.

*Pour on the Bomba rice in two straight lines (this is a technique that I was taught by Master Paella chef Mario Batali as well as Mrs. Paltrow. There does not seem to be any culinary purpose of this step however, it pleases the paella “gods” and I am in no position to mess with their blessings)

IMG_4380

* To finish, incorporate the rice into tomato mixture thoroughly and add your warmed broth (remove any large bits of wakame before adding to pan). Turn off the heat. Toss peas on top and nicely organize the artichokes in a circle around the outside of the pan. Do not stir.

*Place pan in preheated oven for approx. 20-25 mins. or until all liquid has been absorbed and rice is soft.

* Serve in individual dishes with a dollop of paprika aioli or serve it the traditional way, which is to eat it directly from the pan.

IMG_4386