Over the past few weeks, I received a number of requests from readers to post a recipe for paella, a Spanish rice dish. I don’t know if it is the cold and rainy weather that is bringing out peoples’ appetite for these tasty morsels, but in my mind there is nothing more fun and appetizing than having a huge pan of fragrant paella placed in the center of a table for everyone to dig into and enjoy.
Paella, which originates from the city of Valencia, on Spain’s eastern coast, can be made any number of ways. The original dish was prepared with chicken and saffron, but it can also be prepared with beef, fish, seafood or even vegetarian.
To make paella, you sauté the ingredients in a large, shallow frying pan, which is then placed in the center of the table so everyone can serve themselves. Paella is made with short grain rice and the rice on the bottom of the pan is meant to become a little crispy. It’s best to use a paella pan with a metal handle so that it can be placed in the oven for a few minutes before serving to help it crisp up. The paella pan should never be covered.
In addition to the recipe below for fish paella, I’ve also included a dish for a colorful bulgur salad with dried fruits and chopped nuts, which some people consider a side dish and not a salad. I love to make this salad soon after Tu Bishvat every year to use up all the leftover dried fruits and nuts. As well, you can add fresh fruits to this satisfying and nutritious salad. This salad should be prepared in a pretty bowl, which is nice enough to be placed on a table.
For dessert, I’m bringing you a recipe for an apple and wine pie that can be baked in a nice ceramic pan that can be placed on a table. This is one of my all-time-favorite apple pie recipes. I recently tried this recipe with pears substituting the apples and it came out stunning.
This apple pie slightly resembles apple crumble, although it is different since it uses semolina and so comes out grainier. This pie doesn’t slice nicely so it’s best to bring the pie to the table and serve using a large spoon, as you would an apple crumble.
Makes 8-10 servings.
5 Tbsp. olive oil2 onions, chopped or thinly sliced1 spicy green pepper, thinly sliced3 tomatoes, finely chopped1 tsp. salt5 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or chopped½ cup white wine1 tsp. sweet or spicy paprika¼ tsp. turmeric1 tsp. sugar2 ½ cups short grain rice6 cups warm waterOlive oil for frying14 fish fillets (red mullet, sea bass or sea bream)
Serving suggestions:1 lemon, quartered1 cup herbs (parsley, cilantro, scallion), chopped
Pour the oil into a large flat pan and sauté the onions until translucent. Add the pepper and sauté another 2 or 3 min., then add the tomatoes. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Season with salt and garlic, and keep mixing until the vegetables begin to brown. Pour in the wine and add the paprika, turmeric and sugar. Mix well.
Add the rice and mix well. Pour in half of the water and mix with a wooden spoon. Cook another 10 min. until all the water has been absorbed.
Heat more oil in a separate pan and fry the fish fillets on both sides, until they crisp up. Transfer them to a plate. Add the rest of the water to the rice and let it cook for another 5 min.
Take the fish fillets and either press them inside the rice mixture or place them on top of the rice. Place the paella pan inside the oven for 15 min. to let it become crispy.
Remove from the oven and adorn with herbs. Serve with lemon wedges.
Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.Time: 40 min.Status: Parve.
Makes 4-6 servings.
3 Tbsp. olive oil1 large red onion, finely chopped¾ cup cranberries (optional)1 cup bulgur, soaked in water for an hour and drained1 tomato, cubed1 green pepper, finely chopped (optional)¾ cup scallion, finely chopped¼ cup mint, chopped½ cup parsley, chopped¼ cup basil, chopped¼ cup cilantro, choppedSalt and pepper to taste
Serving suggestion:Mint leaves1 cup dried fruits and chopped nuts
Heat oil in large pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add cranberries and sauté another 3-4 min.
Add the bulgur, tomato and pepper. Sauté another 3-4 min. Remove from the flame and transfer to a serving dish.
Add the scallions, herbs, salt and pepper and mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
If you desire, add the dried fruits and nuts before serving. Mix and add a few mint leaves on top.
Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 15 min.Status: Parve.
APPLE AND WINE PIE
Use a 24 cm. x 32 cm. pan.
Filling:6 granny smith apples, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced½ cup brown sugar½ cup maple syrup50 g. raisins2 tsp. cinnamon, ground2 Tbsp. candied pecans2 cups sweet red wine
Dough:1 ½ cups semolina1 cup flour, sifted1 cup sugar150 g. cold butter or margarine, cut into thin slices
Place the apple slices in a large bowl. Add the sugar, maple syrup, raisins, cinnamon, nuts and wine. Mix well and let the mixture sit for 15 min. to soak up all the flavors. Mix every so often.
In a separate bowl, mix all the dough ingredients together, except for the butter. Spread one-third of the dough mixture on the bottom of the pan and flatten.
Add the apple mixture, including the liquid, to the pan and flatten. Add the rest of the dough mixture and flatten gently. Place the butter pieces on top.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 150°C for 1 hour or until the pie browns.
Please note that even if the pie seems like it’s not finished baking, do not bake more than 1 hour. Remove the pie from the oven and place on a counter to cool down. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Level of difficulty: Easy-medium.Time: 80 min.Status: Dairy or Parve.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.