Vegan Paella, Filipino Style

Vegan Paella, Filipino Style

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I looked up several different Paella recipes online, afraid that the process would be too complicated. After all, I always find the flavors of the dish complex and flavorful. I braced myself for what would be laborious work in the kitchen, but much to my surprise the vegan version was amazingly simple. By the way, Filipino style Paella is almost the same as the Spanish original except for some of the spices used. The Filipino version uses achuete or anatto powder as the food coloring instead of saffron threads. Although it still uses saffron, the flavor infusion comes from the bay leaves. Some Filipino versions also use tomato sauce. To add more color and flavor, I used kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts. It’s important to mix the anatto powder with a little bit of water before adding to the pan. Add the onions and tomatoes until fragrant and tender. Add the red bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes. Pour in the rice grains, mix well making sure the grains are coated. Add the water and vegetable broth, mixing well so the rice will have equal amounts of flavor. Simmer and occasionally mix for 5 minutes. Top the rice with bay leaves and cover the pan. Let the rice cook for 15 minutes (no stirring). Check the rice, if the top portion is still raw, add a little bit of water. Do this bit by bit and *gradually* until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked. Once the rice is cooked, mix in the peas. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the artichokes, olives, and lemons on top as garnish. In fact, I think the regular brown rice is still sweeter (but also more robust). With that said, the mild earthy flavor of Kalinga Unoy is perfect for a dish like Paella because it incorporates well with the flavors of the vegetables and spices.

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