Before Christmas, I had the privilege of serving alongside Rep.Pia Cayetano for her Pinay In Action organisation. She asked me to prepare a meal that we would shop for at the local talipapa in Pateros, where her father is from. When I first met her, she emphasised that she always tells people not to eat so much rice, and instead, substitute it withe vegetables. I immediately thought of making a paella, with the challenge of creating it at a low cost. It is the paella spices that drive up the price as well as the rich ingredients such as crab, shrimp ad chorizo. It would be exciting to see if I could truly make the recipe work given that I would be making all of this over a couple of burners- which, most of the Mesa Ni Misis recipes should be able to do.The result was a delicious ‘paella’ or rice casserole full of flavour and fresh vegetables. This dish is easy to throw together as long as you have rice and a bounty of fresh vegetables.
- 1 whole carrot cut into pieces
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 onion, sliced in half
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp achuete
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 3 cups dinorado rice
- 1/2 kalabasa half cut into cubes, and a few pieces cut lengthwise
- 1 cup sitaw, cut into sections
- 1 cup eggplant, cut into rounds
- 1 cup cooked beans, any variety, garbanzos are best for this recipe
- 1 cup tomato, diced
- 1/2 head of garlic , chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 peachy or any leafy green
Put all the vegetables and bay leaf in a pot with 6 cups of water and boil for at least 15 minutes. Set aside. The longer it boils, the more flavour it will render.
In a pan, heat up the oil. Add the achuete until the oil is coloured.
Remove the achuete seeds.
Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, paprika , bay leaf and turmeric and sauté till the onions become transparent.
Add the rice and coat it in the spice mixture well. Season with salt.
Slowly add the broth, cup by cup, never letting the rice dry out. Cover with foil or a lid.
After around 10 minutes, add the kalabasa, sitaw and eggplant, as these take longer to cook. Make sure the paella is covered after adding each vegetable.
Keep adding broth if it starts to dry out. Add the beans and incorporate into the mixture.
Add the leafy greens last as these cook very quickly. Cover the paella.
Create a design on top using the vegetables if you wish. Try not to touch the paella in the last few minutes of cooking, so everything combines well.
Let it steam for about 10 minus more or until the rice is cooked. Dinorado rice will cook quicker than paella rice.
Serve direct from the pan.