Vegetable Rice with Saffron
This is one of my regulars in the kitchen. I use Spanish (Bomba or Calaspara) rice or risotto rice because this rice soaks up the most liquid and makes it many times more delicious than standard white rice (which is boring) or even Basmati rice which I love with curry. The combinations with this dish are endless. The yellow one has saffron in it the other one doesn’t.
I Cup of Spanish Paella rice or Risotto rice
1 pint (20 oz.) Chicken stock
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 stick celery
1 large Fennel bulb or 2 small ones
2 cloves garlic (or to your liking)
Pinch of Saffron
S & P
Oil for frying
I use olive oil to fry the veg. because I love it and it gives this dish extra flavour but you can use any oil.
CHOP onion, carrots, and celery and Fennel Bulb finely.
FRY on medium heat until soft.
ADD the garlic near the end of the vegetable cooking so it doesn’t cook too much.
DROP Saffron into boiling stock.
POUR chicken stock or vegetable stock, with the Saffron into the pan.
COOK for 15 minutes or until the rice is tender, with the lid on.
If too much liquid is left, raise the heat with lid off and boil to reduce watching all the time that it doesn’t burn.
If it is to be vegetarian you can add cooked, diced Butternut Squash with the onion, carrot and celery trio. I put courgettes (zucchini) in all of them when it is summer and we have loads in the garden to eat up. If you want an Eastern flare you can add roasted Aubergine (Egg plant) with toasted Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds and or Cumin seeds.
Suggested ingredients for vegetarian. Use some or all.
Rice, Veg stock, Onion or shallots, Carrots, Celery, Aubergine, Courgettes (Zucchini), Bell Pepper, Garlic, Fennel seeds, Coriander seeds, Cumin seeds, salt & pepper, handful of toasted sliced almonds.
I toss the Aubergine and Courgettes in Olive Oil and then roast in the oven, and add to the rice after it’s cooked. I toast the seeds first in a dry frying pan for a few seconds. (Watch carefully as they burn quickly). This really brings out the flavour. You can now crush them in a Pestle & Mortar if you don’t like whole seeds in your dish.
My husband has recently learned to cook a whole chicken on the BBQ and we serve it with my vegetable rice. Yummy. These are general measurements. You can add more or less of the vegetables. Makes enough for 2 to 4. You can make this dish with any vegetables of your choice. This is a sweet one and because of the fennel, it goes especially well with fish and chicken or even Pork.
You can leave the fennel out if you don’t like it’s warm liquorice flavour. Just before serving I stir in a handful of chopped parsley, which has a clean flavour or Tarragon, which reinforces the liquorice. You could add mixed fresh herbs including marjoram, and thyme or one of my all time favourites, Lemon Thyme turns chicken into something special. If you are having it with beef or Chilli con Carne you can add Bell peppers, and sun dried tomatoes instead of celery and Fennel. If you like a smoky flavour add a heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika, which goes well with plain meat or chicken. A sprinkle of chilli flakes also lifts it up.
ADD CHICKEN OR FISH
The vegetable rice can be a base for an addition of meat, chicken or fish. You could use white fish chunks, skinned and deboned, of course. You can throw in some prawns or muscles, clams or even salmon if you like. Just before the rice is ready place the fish in on top and cook for a couple of more minutes, no more because fish cooks quickly. Be careful of the sizes of your fish chunks. Try to get them all to cook at the same time. The fish is done when it becomes opaque. If you are adding fish you can use fish stock but I prefer chicken stock even with my fish dishes.
VEGETABLE RICE WITH FISH
Suggested ingredients: Rice, Stock, Celery, Garlic, Onions, Fennel, Saffron, Handful of frozen peas, salt & pepper, Prawns/ Shrimp, shellfish of any kind, white fish (chose one or a mixture)