Adding curry powder instead of smoked paprika violates Spanish tradition, but the Indian spice blend tastes great with spinach and chickpeas. This is a hearty portion, so it can serve two with the addition of a salad.
It's loosely based on a recipe by Penelope Casas in "Paella" (Holt, 1999).
Servings: 1 - 2
- 1 cup homemade or no-salt-added vegetable broth
- Kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
- 1 large or 2 small shallot lobes, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup uncooked arborio, bomba or other short-grain rice
- 1 cup (2 ounces) packed baby spinach leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, drained (or if canned, use no-salt-added, drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, cut into strips
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the broth and salt to taste in a small saucepan over medium heat until barely bubbling at the edges; reduce the heat to very low and cover. (Or mix the broth and salt in a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, microwave on HIGH until boiling, about 1 minute, and cover to keep hot.)
Sprinkle the pine nuts into a small (8-inch) cast-iron or other heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently to toss the pine nuts, until they are brown and fragrant, a few minutes. Immediately transfer them to a small plate so they don’t continue cooking and burn.
Return the skillet to medium heat and pour in the oil. Once the oil is hot enough to shimmer, sprinkle in the curry powder and let it sizzle and bloom for a few seconds, then add the shallot and garlic and saute until tender, a few minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for another minute or two, until the rice grains are well coated. Add the spinach and chickpeas and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts, a minute or two.
Pour in the hot broth and bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is gently bubbling. Taste the liquid and add salt as needed, then cook, swirling the pan occasionally to keep the rice hydrated, until the rice has swelled and absorbed much but not all of the liquid (it should be slightly soupy), 8 to 10 minutes.
Scatter the red pepper strips on top of the paella. Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the rice is al dente, or mostly tender but with a little resistance at the center of the grain, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Uncover and return it to the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook for 2 minutes, to brown and crisp the bottom. Scatter the toasted pine nuts on top.
Spoon the paella out onto a plate, or eat it from the pan.
From Joe Yonan, author of "Serve Yourself: Nightly Adventures in Cooking for One" (Ten Speed Press, 2011).
Tested by Jane Touzalin.
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