Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tomato Paella

I've been eyeing this recipe for a while, but now, knee-deep in tomato season, seemed like a perfect time to make it. It's not worth the trouble unless you have perfect juicy tomatoes to be the star.

I was not feeling the need to go out and buy a whole bunch of specialty paella ingredients, including a paella pan, so I made some substitutions. The modified recipe is what I've included here.

Tomato Paella
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Via Wednesday Chef

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, or about 6 large plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, and cut into thick halves or wedges
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 links andouille or chorizo sausauge, cut into half-moons
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Large pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
Minced parsley and basil for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm water in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat.

2. Put remaining oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, sausage, and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in tomato paste, saffron, and paprika and cook for a minute more.

4. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two.

5. Add wine and let simmer until it is mostly absorbed, then add the hot water and stir until just combined.

6. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.

7. Rice should be dry and just tender; if not, return pan to oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of water. When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.

8. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley and basil. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.

Comments & Modifications:
  • Lacking a suitable pan, I used my cast iron skillet, and prayed that the acidity of the tomatoes wouldn't ruin the (factory-made, but still valuable) patina. I think a small amount of the surface may have been removed, though it was hard to tell as I don't use that pan very often. For the future, I think I'll keep an eye out for an inexpensive oven-safe skillet that's not cast iron, just to be safe.
  • I used andouille sausage links that we'd normally put on the grill. They weren't originally in the recipe, but complemented the flavors of the paella very well.
  • If I ever find bomba or other Spanish rice for a decent price, I'd like to give it a try, but the arborio worked well and is so much cheaper and easier to find.

Verdict: Delicious. Both Dan and I went back for second helpings, and still had to restrain ourselves from eating more. The tomatoes were practically melting! Definitely a good way to use up some of that summer bounty.

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