Paella Huertana de Murcia (Vegetable Paella)

By Penelope Casas ’65

The Province of Murcia is known for its tender, sweet vegetables, and therefore this dish most appropriately comes from that region. It is an excellent and colorful meatless meal that includes peas, limas, carrots, artichokes, red peppers, tomatoes, and a wonderful touch of ground almonds.

¼ pound green beans
½ cup peas, fresh or frozen
¾ cup lima beans
2 carrots, scraped and sliced 1/4-inch thick
8 artichoke hearts
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pimiento, homemade or imported, chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
8 blanched almonds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons minced parsley
2 cups short-grain rice
3 cups strong chicken broth, preferably homemade
¼ teaspoon saffron
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in wedges
1 lemon, cut in wedges

Cook the green beans, peas, limas, carrots, and artichokes in salted water until just tender. (The vegetables, of course, have different cooking times—you may want to cook some in separate pots.) Drain the vegetables and reserve 1 cup of the liquid.

In a metal paella pan with about a 15-inch base, heat the oil. Sauté the onion and pimiento until the onion is wilted. Add the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, in a processor or blender, mix the almonds, garlic, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley until they are very finely chopped.

Add the rice to the tomato mixture and stir to coat. Stir in the garlic mixture, then the green beans, peas, lima beans, and carrots. Pour in the broth, boiling hot, and the reserved cooking liquid from the vegetables. Add the saffron and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook seven minutes on top of the stove, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the rice is no longer soupy but some liquid remains.

Transfer to a 325°F oven and bake, uncovered, 10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed but the rice is not quite done. Decorate with the egg wedges and artichokes, then bake five minutes more. Remove, cover loosely with foil, and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Decorate with lemon wedges and sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve with Ensalada de San Isidro and a light red wine like Marqués de Murrieta.

Excerpted from The Foods & Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas. Copyright © 1982 by Penelope Casas. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.