Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Recipe: Mark Bittman's Paella with Tomatoes

Got home from work a little later than usual last night, so I wanted something that was fairly quick to make for dinner. I had tomatoes that I was planning to use later in the week. I decided to use them yesterday to make Mark Bittman's paella with tomatoes, a dish I've made reference to in a previous post about rice.

Prep took less than 10 minutes. I did add about 1 1/2 cups of frozen peas into skillet before placing it in the oven, because, well, I like the combination of peas and rice. This really is one of my favorite dishes to make on a weekday.

Mark Bittman's Paella with Tomatoes
Serves approximately 6

3 1/2 cups vegetable stock (see note below)
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes (approximately 3 medium tomatoes), cored and cut into thick wedges (I skipped the coring part)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Large pinch saffron threads (optional)
2 teaspoons smoked or other paprika
2 cups Spanish or other short-grain white rice (I used arborio rice)
Flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped, for garnishing

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm the vegetable stock in a pot. Place the tomato wedges in a bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over them, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss, and set aside.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-12 inch, oven-safe, skillet over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the onions until they become soft, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, saffron threads, and paprika for about a minute or so. Add the rice and stir until the grains become shiny, 1-2 minutes. Add the warm stock and stir until combined.

Spread the rice evenly in the skillet and then place the tomato wedges on top of the rice. Drizzle with the tomato juices from the bottom of the bowl. Place the skillet in the oven for 15-20 minutes. When the rice becomes tender, remove the pan from the oven (MAKE SURE TO USE A POT HOLDER) and let it sit for another 5-15 minutes. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and serve.

(Note: Although Mr. Bittman calls for using either vegetable broth or water for this dish, I recommend using vegetable broth. I've tried both and find that this dish has much more flavorful when broth is used.)

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