I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook Plenty. Flicking through the pages takes you off to warmer climes. So, if you’re in the mood for bringing a little bit of sunshine to your dinner table on a cold winter’s day, his multi-veg paella certainly hits the spot.
I’ve tried a number of vegetarian paella recipes and have to admit this is by far the best. Packed full of peppers, grilled artichokes, olives, fennel, broad beans and subtle tones of saffron, it not only looks spectacular it tastes pretty good too. And, another bonus is, it pretty much looks after itself – once you’ve got all the ingredients prepped (the peeling of the broad beans is a bit of a faff but worth the effort) – meaning you can sit back and enjoy a glass of vino with your guests.
The last time I cooked this, it was a catch-up lunch with my lovely ex-colleagues – a mixture of vegetarians, gluten avoiders and meat eaters. With the first two categories catered for I wanted to ensure the latter didn’t feel a little short-changed while tucking into this meat-free creation. So, I popped a tray of chicken pieces into the oven with the addition of garlic, lemon and olive oil and let the oven do its work. After about 40 minutes at gas mark 5 the crispy chicken didn’t look too shabby and complemented the paella perfectly.
The verdict from the meat-eater: ‘That wasn’t bad for a vegetarian meal, but I’m glad you did the chicken too.’