Vegetarian Paella

Rice

1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 t. salt
1/2 t. saffron, crumbled

Vegetables

2 cups finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 t. dried thyme (I used fresh)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas
1 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

First make the rice: drain the artichoke hearts, reserving the brine from the can. Quarter the artichoke hearts and set aside. Add water to the brine to make 2 1/2 cups liquid and combine it with the rice, salt and saffron in a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and very gently simmer until rice is tender, about 40 to 45 minutes. You may have to add a bit more water if the rice is too dry. (I cooked my rice in a Japanese rice cooker. Easy and foolproof.)

When the rice has simmered for about 25 minutes, start the vegetables. Saute the onions, celery and garlic in the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the thyme, bell pepper and asparagus; cover and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the peas, tomatoes and reserved artichoke hearts. Stir gently, cover and continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. I added a good splash of Frank’s Original Hot Sauce. You could also sprinkle on some crushed red pepper flakes.

To serve the paella, spread the rice on a large platter or bowl and top with the vegetables and their juices.

You can add about 1/2 lb. of shrimp to this. Lay the shrimp atop the vegetables during the last few minutes of cooking time to steam them.

Serves: 6

6 Poodles per 15 oz. serving

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