This recipe uses a great method for cooking brown rice: baking. In this case, the rice is baked with vegetables, herbs, and chickpeas to make a fantastic vegetarian dish; paired with a salad or steamed veggies, it is one of my favorite light-but-satisfying meals. I prefer using short grain brown rice for its texture, but other types of rice are fine, too-- just subtract 1/2 cup of liquid if you're using white rice. There are all kinds of great additions that can be used with this recipe: artichoke hearts, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, hearts of palm. And though it's not a very Spanish touch, a hearty splash of vinegary pepper sauce (like Tabasco or Crystal) is a great way to add a zingy garnish. —vvvanessa
4 as a main dish
small onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
cloves garlic, minced
medium carrot, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
rib of celery, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
medium red bell pepper, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
In a large, oven-safe pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté bay leaf, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery until almost tender, about 7 minutes.
Add in red bell peppers and continue to cook until they begin to soften, about 4 more minutes.
Add the rice and saffron. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another couple of minutes to get the rice lightly toasted.
Mix tomato paste into water or stock. Add the combined liquids to the rice-vegetable base.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine well.
Raise heat to high. Allow mixture to come to a boil for 2 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Cover pan with an oven-safe lid or carefully cover tightly with aluminum foil. Set pan in oven.
Cook for 40-50 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through but still slightly al dente, not mushy.
Remove pan from oven and carefully remove the cover. Gently stir in the peas, garbanzos, and olives. Return the pan to the oven uncovered for 5 minutes or just long enough for the peas, garbanzos, and olives to heat through.
Serve hot with a garnish parsley and squeeze of lemon.