From Pasture to Plate: Tomato Brown Rice Paella with Peas and Cheddar

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Photography By Joe Coca
This piquant vegetarian paella with farmhouse cheddar melted on top makes the perfect dinner.

Tomato Brown Rice Paella with Peas and Cheddar
Serves 4 to 6

This comforting dish makes an excellent main course with a crunchy green salad. Or, serve it as a side dish alongside grilled chicken or shrimp. This version was inspired by chef Deborah Madison’s Spanish Rice recipe. White Valencia rice is more authentic, but long-grain brown rice adds a rich, nutty flavor and firm texture.

6 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cups long-grain brown rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
4 to 6 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, peeled but not chopped
12 sprigs fresh parsley, tied with twine
12 sundried tomatoes, drained and cut into slivers (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup cooked peas
6 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
Fresh pea shoots to garnish, optional
Fresh parsley springs to garnish, optional

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onions and cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes until softened but not browned.

2. Add rice and toss to coat. Add salt, tomato paste, pepper flakes, turmeric and cayenne; stir to blend. Add 4 cups of the broth, garlic and parsley. Add sundried tomatoes and stir.

3. Cover tightly and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered 20 to 40 minutes (timing will depend on the type of rice you use). After 20 minutes, check rice every 5 minutes and add more broth if needed. Do not stir, or rice will become soft and mushy. (Note: Long-grain brown rice may require as much as 6 cups broth.)

4. When rice is tender, remove garlic and parsley and discard. Add peas and stir just to mix. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and spoon rice into it. Sprinkle with cheese and place under a broiler until cheese melts.

5. Garnish with pea shoots and parsley, and serve warm.

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