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Food
Perfect Garden Paella

Golden rice studded with a confetti of vegetables make this a dramatic and delicious paella. Serve with grilled fish or meat on the side. Use a 14- to 16-inch pan. Feel free to add other vegetables such as peas, frozen lima beans, chopped mushrooms, zucchini slices or artichoke hearts.

2 red bell peppers, halved, seeded, roasted and skinned
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, plus a bit more if needed
1/4 teaspoon crushed Spanish saffron
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, halved, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, seeded and grated*
2 cups short-grain rice
1 teaspoon paprika, preferably Spanish pimenton
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fino (pale dry) Spanish sherry
Coarse salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges for garnish
Garlic mayonnaise to accompany

Roast red peppers, peel and set aside. In a saucepan, combine broth and saffron. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Keep warm over low heat.

Place an oven rack on the lowest position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a 14- to 16-inch-diameter paella pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, green bell pepper and garlic and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the grated tomato and red bell pepper strips and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Push vegetables to the side of pan and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in center. Heat for 30 seconds, then add rice, pimenton and cumin, stirring well to coat rice with oil. Cook for 1 minute. Add sherry, stir for 30 seconds and add broth mixture and a good sprinkle of salt. Boil, stirring occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer pan to oven and bake until rice is almost al dente and most of liquid is absorbed, about 10 to 12 minutes longer. Test the rice: it should be tender, but with a little kernel of resistance in the center. The only way to be sure is to taste it. Remove from oven, cover with a towel and let stand until broth is absorbed and rice finished cooking, 5 minutes. The cooked rice grains should cling together but not be sticky.

Sprinkle with parsley and garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6 as a light entree or side dish.

*To grate tomatoes: cut each one in half across the equator and flick out the seeds. Rub the tomato against the big holes of a hand held grater. In just a minute, you will have a crimson pile of tomato "meat" and nothing left but skin to discard. Makes you wonder why you haven't discovered this technique before.

Thursday, December 20, 2001

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