Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sunshine Paella - Vegan Month of Food

Poesy and Plate
Vegan Month of Food  2014
(checkout the hundreds of VeganMoFo blogs HERE)
My goal: cook and blog about vegan food 20 times
 during the month of September. 

My theme: words and food

Oranges , by Gary Soto

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December. Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porch light burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge. I smiled,  
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing  
Before a drugstore. We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted -
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth. I fingered  
A nickle in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickle from  
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter. When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all

A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old  
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my

Oh, how I love this poem and that wonderful woman behind the counter who remembers the joy and thrill of young love. The beauty of a half peeled orange in a young boy's hand is such a great visual image - truly like a fire. It's my favorite fruit and my favorite color. (Well, I love all fruits and I love all colors)

If you've never read Gary Soto, then let me be the first to recommend his writing to you. I use a lot of his stuff in my classroom. 

And if you've never made paella at home you will be pleased to see how simple it is. Really, it's just a baked rice casserole with lots of veggies and that extra special ingredient: saffron! If you have time and you're willing to babysit the paella while baking, you will have great success! Any heavy bottom oven proof pan will do fine for this dish. 

Sunshine Paella

Here's what you need:
1 C white rice
2 C vegetable broth + lots more to drizzle over rice while cooking
a large pinch of saffron
olive oil
2-3 carrots sliced very thin
various vegetables, sliced ; red and orange peppers, onions, green peas, artichokes
lemon slices
sliced almonds
chick peas or other beans for a boost of protein. 

Here's what you do:
Warm the vegetable broth with the saffron and set aside
Heat the pan with a generous amount of olive oil and stir the rice in the hot oil until each grain has become a bit translucent. 
Slowly pour half of  the warm broth over the rice and gently distribute the rice. 
Place pan, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. 

Pour the remaining broth over the rice, stir gently and bake another 5 minutes.
Arrange the harder vegetables in a pleasing pattern : I was aiming for a sunshine, so I put the veg in a circle - kinda like the rays of the sun. (peppers, onion, chick peas)
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 10 more minutes

In the meantime, saute the carrot slices in olive oil and another small pinch of saffron threads.
Keep checking the paella and test for 'done-ness' by tasting the rice. I added quite a bit more vegetable broth and kept baking it and checking it at 10 minute intervals. I probably added another 1 1/2 C broth.
Never stir it!
Eventually, add the softer vegetables: lemon slices, artichokes, peas and almonds) Keep baking and checking - for a total of maybe 40-50 minutes. It can sit covered for a long time after it comes out of the oven.
Place the carrots in the center of the paella for a spectacular presentation.

Before serving, drizzle with more olive oil (optional) and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon (mandatory)

Buen Provecho!


  1. I've never made paella, not sure why? You've just changed my mind will definitely give it a go :o)


Thanks for stopping by my Living Cookbook! I appreciate each and every comment!