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Author Notes: Paella is one of those things you bring out and people are all, WHAT YOU MADE THIS?! Despite its status as a dramatic main course, paella is really easy, fairly quick, and - if you're not beholden to the idea that paella and Lobster Fest are one and the same - cheap. This version, inspired by Mark Bittman's Paella with Tomatoes from the New York Times, is mostly healthy and easy to tweak for vegetarians. —MeghanVK
- 3.5 cups chicken stock
- 1.5 cups broccoli florets
- 1.5 cups cauliflower florets
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- soy sauce (for umami)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 links mild chicken sausage (optional)
- 2 links not chicken sausage (optional)
- salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stock in a saucepan or (for cheaters like myself) the microwave.
- Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until not quite tender. I do this by placing them in a heatproof bowl with a few splashes of water, sprinkling them with salt, covering with a plate, and microwaving at 30-second intervals, but you can also place them in a steamer basket over simmering water for three or four minutes. A knife should be able to pierce the vegetables, but with a bit of resistance. Once steamed, run the vegetables under cold water and set aside.
- If using the sausage, chop into 1/2 thick rounds. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet (the same one you'll be using for the rice). Saute the sausage pieces over medium-high heat until browned and a bit crispy, a few minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in that same 12-inch (or larger) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots, season with salt, and cook three to five minutes, until softened. Add the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste, a tiny splash of soy sauce, and the smoked paprika, and cook for one more minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Let cook for a minute or two and add the warmed broth. Stir to combine.
- Tuck the broccoli and cauliflower into the rice. Put the pan in the oven and let roast for 15-20 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is just tender, adding a little liquid if it looks too dry (if using, tuck in the sausage pieces after 10 minutes). Turn off the oven and let the paella sit for 5 minutes.
- Remove pan from oven and place over high heat on the stove. Let sit for a few minutes to develop a crust before serving, moving the pan around if necessary to make sure the heat hits the entire bottom of the pan.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Cheap Feast