There is no better culinary ambassador of Spain's Valencia region than paella. While the dish normally contains meat or seafood or some mix of the two, this veggie version offers a delicious alternative with the roasted red tomatoes offering a pleasing feast for the eyes.
3 1/2 cups stock or water1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedgesSalt and freshly ground black pepper1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil1 medium onion, minced1 tablespoon minced garlic1 tablespoon tomato pastLarge pinch saffron threads (optional)2 teaspoons Spanish piment?n (smoked paprika), or other paprika2 cups Spanish or other short-grain riceMinced parsley for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm stock or water in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat.2. Put remaining oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, saffron if you are using it, and paprika and cook for a minute more. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two. Add liquid and stir until just combined.3. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Check to see if rice is dry and just tender. If not, return pan to oven for another 5 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of stock or water (or wine). When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.
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