Updated: Dec 31, 2019
VEGAN, PLANT-BASED, GLUTEN FREE, NUT-FREE
I just came back from an amazing trip to Barcelona. I am really not a traveler, but for my 30th my mom offered to come and watch my 3 kids so my husband and I could take vaca, by ourselves, for the first time EVER!
Barcelona was amazing but eating only kosher made it really hard to experience authentic Barcelona/Spanish food. This piece was such a miss since this is really part of the experience of traveling to another country.
I went on a search to find a kosher, vegan authentic Spanish cooking class. Nothing. Nada. So, I had to settle for a vegan, authentic Spanish cooking class. Which, btw was not easy at all to find. If you google “Barcelona Vegan cooking class” you get maybe 4 options. I contacted all four and either they discontinued the service or were so overbooked. Our tour guide, Mariona Cairó (who I totally recommend the next time you are in Barcelona 😉, she is a powerhouse and an amazing hiker) called a few places that only spoke Spanish and got us a class for the next day. Like I said, powerhouse!
We met our Chef/teacher Jaume Brichs at the culinary school, La Patente bright and early. This was my first cooking class ever, and I have to say I hope I will learn this much at all my future classes. Jaume had great English, was so patient and has a love for teaching. There was no arrogance. I seriously learned so many cooking techniques beyond just the dishes we cooked, I will have to share them in other posts because they are seriously priceless.It was really important for me to learn how to make authentic Spanish food because I can always find a Paella recipe online but that will be someone else’s version. By going to the source I can really make it my own while keeping to the dish’s roots.
Jaume is not a vegan or plant-based but after we finished cooking he kept saying, you guys better be careful one day I will become vegan because of these types of classes. Jaume, let’s hope!
I really understand why Jaume said this after our class. When you are forced to use just vegetables you have to become so much more creative in how you deal with them. Spanish cooking is not spicy to my surprise (I just assumed it was like Mexican cooking. Please excuse my ignorance) and it also does not use that many spices. We steamed vegetables in the oven on a bed of rosemary, we burnt the skins of vegetables with a blow torch, and we sautéed onions nice and slowly, or despacito as they say in Spanish.
The dish I was the most excited to make was Paella. That dish was all over restaurant window displays, on flyers people were giving out in the market and on take out counters. Of course, I couldn’t have any because they weren’t kosher, also they are almost always made with seafood, sooo not vegan.
We treated those vegetables for the Paella with such tender love and care it was incredible. When I got back home I obviously had to make this myself but also had to figure out how to cut down the cooking time while still maintaining all the flavor. Success! It came out so flavorful my children were cleaning out the pan with their little fingers.
Here is my rendition on Jaume’s recipe. This is for the working person who just wants some good plant-based food to warm up their belly. It still takes more patshke then my-kind of recipes but it’s great when you are in the mood to create a crowd-pleaser for a holiday or a get-together.
Let’s dig in!
* 1 clove of garlic
* 1 yellow onion
* 1/2 red pepper
* 1/2 green pepper
* 1 carrot
* 1 celery
* 8 shitake mushrooms
* 1 package of dried mushrooms (shiitake or porcini or whatever you have)
* 6 Asparagus stalks. Washed and trimmed.
* 1 Tomato
* Scallions or Green garlic
* Vegetable stock (easy and quick homemade recipe included)
* Parsley (optional)
1. Use a Paella frying pan if you happen to have one- otherwise use any large, flat frying pan you have on hand. You will want to serve the Paella in the pan you cook it in as is traditionally done. Turn your oven on to 350F/180C.
2. If you are making your own quick and easy vegetable stock we will be doing this in parallel since it’s super simple and so much better then store-bought. Put up a soup pot filled halfway with water on medium heat. Add about a tbsp of salt.
3. Open up your dried mushrooms and pour them into a bowl. cover them with boiling water.
4. Mince garlic and set aside. Dice onion to a small dice and set aside. Put any part of the onion skin that still has some meat on it into your pot for your vegetable stock.
5. Heat the pan over medium heat and drizzle about a tbsp of olive oil.
6. Add the garlic first. (😱, I know, I know but trust me it won’t burn. You want to always cook garlic first I learned, so you get its real flavor out and not just steam it with the onions. Don’t worry I was shocked too) Let the garlic brown, but keep an eye on it. That’s why I asked you to dice the onions already.
7. Once the garlic is browned and fragrant (you know what I mean, this will smell like the dried garlic you buy at the supermarket, except it’s the real deal. You made this. Oh, ya!) add the onions. Make sure the heat is on medium. We want to onions to carmelize and become a light brown, not fry. Try not to mix them too much, letting the onions sit allows for the sugars to come out and caramelize. So, I was advised to let the onions to sit for 1 hour. Uh ah, nope. No time for that. Instead, we will chop all our other veggies which will give these bad boys like 15 to do their magic.
8. Chop the peppers, carrots, and celery into small pieces (the size of a thumbnail) and put it to the side. Take any part of the vegetables (except the pepper seeds and steam) that you will not be cooking with into your vegetable stock. If you have some more celery add it too.
9. Chop your fresh and dried mushrooms. Add the dried mushroom juice to your veggie stock. Yum 😋
10. Cut your asparagus and green onions into half a thumb-size pieces. Set aside.
11. Now, the onions should start getting that nice caramelized color. Push them to the side of the pan so they can get a little more alone time. Add the peppers, carrots, celery, and mushrooms to the other half of the pan and mix in with the olive oil. If the pan is looking dry then add a little more olive oil. Make sure the heat is still on medium heat and turn down if things are starting to fry. Add about a tsp of salt.
12. Mix the onions with the rest of the veggies and saute until carrots are kinda soft. About 10 minutes.
13. Add the asparagus and saute for a few more minutes. The carrots should be pretty soft at this point.
14. Now for a cool part! Take your tomato and cut in half. Over the frying pan. Place the seed side of the tomato to a grater and begin to grate up until the skin. Do this to both sides of the tomato. and look at that, abracadabra homemade tomato sauce! (just kidding, but kinda). Mix into the vegetable mixture and let reduce.
15. Bring your awesome, homemade, zero waste veggie stock to a boil. (look at you, and all your greeness)
16. Take 2-3 handfuls of rice (yes handfuls, that’s how they do it in Spain 🤷🏻♀️) and add to the pan. Mix in with everything else.
17. Once the stock is boiling either strain it. Or just take a ladle and get to the clear stuff. You want to ladle 2 and 1/2 X of liquid to a handful of rice (ah, precise measurements. This is more fun though. Ha). i.e. 2 hand fulls of rice= 4 full ladles and 1/2 ladle.
18. Mix in the liquid a little. But then don’t mix it anymore! You don’t want to mix the rice too much because then the starches are released and the rice will get sticky. And that’s not authentic Paella. Apparently.
19. Now you are going to want to get a timer out (you know that app on your phone…) and start the timer for 10 minutes. If you see the sides of the rice are getting dried out add some more vegetable stock. Fight the urge to mix. If you suspect things are burning then turn down the heat. You can also take a peek. I won’t tell anyone 🤫.
20. When the timer rings. Remove the pan from the stovetop and slide onto the oven. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Set the timer.
21. While the pan is in the oven you can do something really fancy. Chop a handful of parsley, minced 1 garlic clove and mix in a bowl will a tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
22. When the timer is up, please put on oven mitts (I always forget this part. Ouch.🔥) and remove the pan from the oven. The rice on top looks like it’s not fully cooked. That’s totally fine. We are not done yet. Cover with baking paper or a clean towel.
23. Once slightly cooled spoon the parsley mix (called a Picada in Spain) all over the Paella. This adds some extra pizazz.