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December 20, 2012

Black-Eyed Peas and Rice

Kim O'Donnel's specialty for the new year or any time

  • Kim O'Donnel learned paella technique from Spain's chef José Andrés, then created this meat-free version. Clare Barboza

Serves 6

4 cups vegetable stock
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion (more than half a medium-size onion)
1 cup seeded and diced bell pepper of your favorite color (about 1 medium)
1 16-ounce bag frozen black-eyed peas, or 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, cooked*
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 1/4 cups tomato puree
1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron (optional)
1/2 cup white wine you enjoy drinking
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 cups (1 pound) uncooked short-grain white rice
Optional garnishes: Pickled peppers, chopped fresh parsley, lemon zest

Tools: 15-inch paella pan (or use a shallow, lidless skillet as close to 15 inches in diameter as possible)

In a medium-size saucepan, warm the vegetable stock until heated through and keep covered, on low, until ready to use.

Over medium-high heat, heat the paella pan until it’s too hot to place your hand about 3 inches above the pan. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, tilting the pan so that the oil coats the entire bottom surface. Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning or sticking. Add the bell pepper, stir well, and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and smoked paprika, stirring until the vegetables are evenly coated with the spice, about 90 seconds.

Transfer the black-eyed pea mixture to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with a dry paper towel to remove any burned, stuck-on bits. Add the remaining olive oil and the garlic and cook over medium heat until, as chef Andrés says, "they dance." (When heated, the garlic moves around the pan in the bubbling oil.)

Add the tomato puree and stir often, over the next 5 minutes, until the color has transformed from red to a more golden, orange-brown shade. Add the saffron, if using. Then add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high, stirring to keep from burning.

Return the black-eyed pea mixture to the pan. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, taste for salt, and then season accordingly. You want the mixture to be slightly salty. This is also your last chance to add salt before the rice is added.

Add the rice and set a timer for 16 minutes. For the first 6 minutes, gently stir the paella, to minimize burning and sticking. For the remaining cooking time, please heed the advice from chef Andrés: no more stirring or touching. Otherwise, you will have a gummy rice concoction. This is also why you cannot add salt at this stage.

At minute 16, taste a grain of rice for doneness. It should be slightly al dente, like risotto. Turn off the heat and allow the paella to sit for at least 5 minutes. The results should be dry, not soupy.

Serve hot in bowls.

*To cook dried black-eyed peas: Soak the peas for at least 2 hours in enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Drain the peas, then place them in a large pot with 4 cups of water. Bring them to a lively simmer over medium-high heat. Cook at a hard boil for 5 minutes, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender to the bite. This should take about an hour.

From the book The Meat Lover's Meatless Celebrations by Kim O’Donnel. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com.

Nutrition

All figures are per serving (assumes 6 servings).

Calories: 489
Fat: 11 g
Carbs: 79 g
Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 14 g
Sodium: 774 mg

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