This is a lovely variation on the traditional paella recipe, which although I have blogged paella before, I make no apologies in including this again as this works really well and has been a big hit among the customers in my cafe. I find roasting the aubergines in smoked paprika really brings out the flavours here.
1 medium onion red or white, finely chopped
4 tbs olive oil
1 each of red and orange pepper (or a combination of any), finely sliced
2 medium aubergines, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
250g frozen peas
10 cherry or mini plum tomatoes, halved
3 bay leaves
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Large pinch of saffron threads
200g paella rice
150ml medium sherry (optional)
500ml hot vegetable stock (from bouillon)
A handful pitted olives, halved
3 tbs fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and place the aubergine cubes in a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the smoked paprika. Roast to 20 minutes until soft.
2. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan or wok and gently shallow fry the onion for approximately 5 minutes then add the peppers and fry gently for a further 5 minutes.
3. Add the aubergine cubes then garlic, bay leaves and remaining spices and stir in thoroughly. Slowly add the rice and stir continuously for 3 minutes before adding the saffron and sherry.
4. Bring to the boil then add the stock and season. Reduce the heat and simmer gently uncovered for approximately 25 minutes.
5. Add the frozen peas and chopped tomatoes and stir gently. Take off the heat, cover and allow rest for 15 minutes.
6. Add the olives and parsley and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice if preferred then season to taste.
Serve immediately with plenty of freshly baked crusty bread.