Welcome to the first post in the Teach Ben How to Cook Series - if you're not sure what this is, read this post. Essentially over the next few weeks and months, I'll be bringing you a range of easy recipes primarily with the aim of teaching my friend Ben how to cook, but also to inspire all of you lovely people to get creative in the kitchen too! I've still got pleanty of places for recipe submission, so if you'd like to Teach Ben How to Cook too, drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lets get cracking!
150-200g Paella Rice (or Risotto Rice)
1 Medium Onion
Vegetables of your choice - I've used a medium carrot, some broad beans, a courgette. Other appropriate vegetables include peppers, mushrooms, leeks.
1 Beef Tomatoe (or a couple of smaller ones)
Stock Powder (we use Marigold Vegan Reduced Salt Boullion which you can find at most supermarkets)
750ml Boiling Water
Herbs and Spices
First, chop your vegetables. I generally tend to remove the top and bottom of each piece of veg, then cut it in half and slice it into smaller pieces. Try to keep everything a similar size to help it cook through evenly.
Next, take a large non-stick pan or a wok and heat a tablespoon (or a largish glug if you're me) of oil. We use rapeseed but olive oil will work well too! You want to be using a low-medium heat. Let it heat up for a good minute or two and swish it around a little.
Add your onion to the pan and stir, stir, stir. You need to cook the onion until they're soft but not brown. You should hear a gentle hissing type noise but not a loud sizzling. If they start really sizzling, turn the heat down!
Once your onions have softened a little, you can add the rest of the veg with the exception of the tomatoes - save those for later!. Keep stirring regularly to ensure they get evenly coated with oil and exposed to the hot parts of the pan.
Once your vegetables have had a couple of minutes to soften, you need to add your herbs and spices. I added za'tar, cayenne, paprika, herbs d'prov, basil, turmeric and (of course) salt and pepper. If you were going to omit anything I'd say the za'tar, basil and turmeric are the least needed. You probably want around 1 tsp of paprika, herbs d'prov and basil, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cayenne and a pinch of za'tar. Salt and Pepper - a good grind of each! Again, stir, stir, stir!
Now you need to add your rice to the pan - make sure your heat is fairly low, that there's still a little oilyness (if it's looking dry, add a smidge more oil) and that you keep stirring. Once your rice is coated in herby, spicey oily goodness you can add your water and 3 tsp stock powder (or a stock cube if that's what you're using). At this point, I also add a little squirt of tomato sauce and a dash of vegan worcester sauce.
Yum! Give everything a good stir, make sure you're on a medium heat and leave it to simmer (tiny bubbles not a ranging torrent of bubbles) for around 10 minutes. You might want to give it the occasional stir but you're basically free to sit down and have a little rest for a bit if you like :)
After 10 minutes, your stock should have reduced a little. Give it another good stir and then place your tomatoes on top - don't stir them in though! Now all that's left to do is pop a lid on it and leave it to cook for another 15-20 minutes. Again, make sure your paella is simmering but not boiling - you don't want your heat so high that you burn the bottom but also don't want it so low that your rice doesn't cook! Don't worry about stirring it or anything for the next 15-20 minutes... it'll sort itself out!
This is roughly how it should look when it's cooked - you'll note mine still had a little water left as I added a bit too much to start with but I solved that by giving it a good stir at the very end and then turning up the heat quite high for the last 30 seconds to a minute.
Dish up and serve with a wedge of lemon to be squeezed over the top before eating!
How can you get involved in Teach Ben How to Cook?
1. Send me recipes (with photos of you cooking them preferably) to be featured and for Ben to give a try
2. Try cooking each of the recipes yourself and send me a photo (and maybe a little sentence or two) to include in the follow up posts that Ben and I will be writing for each recipe. He's going to be sharing his thoughts and experiences as he learns how to cook and it'd be wonderful if any of you wanted to include yours too!