Tomato paella. It sits on the line between fussy and stupidly simple. Yes, stock has to be heated in a separate pan—but you could probably skip the heating, or the stock for that matter (water works). Yes, the tomatoes have to be soaked in olive oil and salt and pepper, but you could probably skip that, too. Don’t have the right rice? Use plain old medium-grain Goya (as I did), it’ll be fine. So make this by the book, or go slapdash. The New York Times’ Mark Bittman never fails.
One thing though: the tomatoes really do have to be good. I was packing juicy, meaty ones, fresh from the Long Island farm stand, and they were awesome.
Here’s the recipe as the Times ran it. Or you can watch the video. Very easy to follow. I didn’t have tomato paste, so I substituted finely chopped sun dried tomato and it was delicious.
Paella With Tomatoes
3 1/2 cups stock or water
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into thick wedges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste (or chopped sun dried tomato --ed)
Large pinch saffron threads (optional)
2 teaspoons Spanish pimentón (smoked paprika), or other paprika
2 cups Spanish or other short-grain rice
Minced parsley for garnish.
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Warm stock or water in a saucepan. Put tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat.
2. Put remaining oil in a 10- or 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, saffron if you are using it, and paprika and cook for a minute more. Add rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is shiny, another minute or two. Add liquid and stir until just combined.
3. Put tomato wedges on top of rice and drizzle with juices that accumulated in bottom of bowl. Put pan in oven and roast, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Check to see if rice is dry and just tender. If not, return pan to oven for another 5 minutes. If rice looks too dry but still is not quite done, add a small amount of stock or water (or wine). When rice is ready, turn off oven and let pan sit for 5 to 15 minutes.
4. Remove pan from oven and sprinkle with parsley. If you like, put pan over high heat for a few minutes to develop a bit of a bottom crust before serving.
The whole thing takes about 30 minutes, and yields 4 to 6 servings.