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Food

Paella goes vegetarian

Seasonal vegetables replace seafood and meat in the Spanish classic.
vegetarian paella

When chef-owner Tory Miller opened Estrellon in Madison, Wis., last August, his Spanish-inspired menu had to include a traditional Paella Valenciana, made with clams, shrimp, rabbit and chorizo, he says. But Miller knew from his experience with three other restaurants in Madison that about 25 percent of people prefer to order vegetarian, and he wanted to offer a paella for those guests to enjoy, he says. So he reworked the recipe to add a vegetarian version with seasonally changing ingredients. Since vegetables cook faster than meat, the veggie paella saves prep time and labor, says Miller. It’s also lower in price—$45 compared to $65 for a two-person portion. “The vegetarian version now accounts for about one-third of paella orders,” says Miller.

Market Vegetable Paella

Miller starts the recipe with the same short-grain bomba rice imported from Spain, but he cooks it in vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. When preparing the stock, he adds the rinds from stravecchio cheese for body and rich flavor. To get that characteristic crunchy layer under the rice, he tosses grated stravecchio into the pan. “As the paella cooks, the cheese coats the bottom with a crispy crust, just as meat drippings would,” he says. The cooking time for the veggie version is less than an hour. “For the classic paella, I have to braise the rabbit for a couple of hours,” Miller says.

Smart swaps

Instead of...Try this...
Chicken stockVegetable stock
Meat drippings form crustCheese forms crust
Chorizo, rabbit and seafoodSeasonal vegetables

 

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