I’m just mad about saffron, saffron’s mad about this bitch he used to date in college who totally broke his heart and the holidays are especially hard for him because she hooked up with smoked paprika senior year and they had a kid and so they’re trying to make it work and now it’s like, how many Christmas cards can one spice get? Amiright?
So now that’s out of the way (whew!), I got a cast iron skillet! I know, mere weeks ago I was lauding the benefits of being a BWOACIS (Bitch Without A Cast Iron Skillet), but I’m also a skilled liar. Or shall I say, a skillet liar? Folks? Anyways, my father got me said cast iron skillet along with a couple of stupid-nice knives that are now the first sharp knives I’ve ever owned. ChanuKAH-CHING! But also, Chanukahscaredofknives. (That one didn’t work as well.)
As for this take on Paella, my mother sealed the deal with a pretty bottle of saffron and the rest was history. And by that, I mean I tried to figure out something I could make with saffron in a cast iron skillet and Paella sounded like a thing. Clearly this is not a traditional Paella because I do my own shit and of course by that, I mean I don’t really eat rice. And making cauliflower rice “crunchy” like paella rice sounded like a task I wasn’t really up for/borderline impossible. I should really just save some time and say what I mean the first time but I’m sure you could have guessed all that anyways. Whatever.
This dish is tasty and filling, super low in calories for the massive amount of food you’re getting, and good for a crowd. Plus, it’s totally customizable and has no qualms being the kitchen sink of dinners. Keep the spices more or less consistent but put whatever else veggie wise you want in there. I added liquid to this that I later regretted so I’ve omitted it from the recipe. Use your own judgment there but cauliflower rice is prone to sogginess on it’s own and I think you’ll have a pretty chance to get a somewhat sorta crispy crust without any added water. Oh and this has lots of good old fiber in it! Funzies!
NOT-ENTIRELY PAELLA with CAULIFLOWER RICE
adapted/frankensteined together from Food Network’s Vegetable Paella and Proud Italian Cook’s Italian Style Vegetable Paella
makes 4 big portions
- 1 teaspoon of saffron threads, seeped in 2 tablespoons or so of hot water for 15 minutes
- red pepper puree (3 red peppers, roasted for 40 mins at 475, pureed with 1 tablespoon of olive oil – you will use 3/4 to 1 cup and have lots left over)
- 6 tomatoes on the vine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/8th wedges
- 1 small eggplant, cubed
- some shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed
- 1 portobello mushroom cap, cubed
- 1/2 half a large head of cauliflower, riced
- 1 bell pepper, sliced
- 2 or 3 tablespoons capers
Seriously, don’t bring that story up with saffron. He’s a loose cannon.
preheat your oven to 450.
Core the tomatoes and cut them into wedges. Toss them with some salt and pepper and put them in a bowl for later.
Heat up a tablespoon of oil in your cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, paprika, cayenne, salt, and soaked saffron (with liquid). Cook until the onions have softened. Push that stuff to the side of the skillet and add the fennel to the open area. Let the fennel cook for about 5 minutes until it’s browned a bit on one side. Flip the pieces and mix everything up in the pan. Add in the eggplant and 1/2 cup of the roasted pepper puree. Mix it all up, let everything cook a few minutes. Add in the mushrooms. Mix up and let cook another couple of minutes. Once everything has softened, add in the cauliflower rice. Mix it in. Let it cook for like 5 minutes or so. Salt again to taste. Add in the capers and arrange the sliced bell peppers in a pretty way. Cook another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and arrange the tomato wedges on top. Stick the cast iron skillet in the oven for 20 minutes. No peeking! After 20 minutes, turn off the oven but keep the skillet in there for another 15-20 minutes. Remove. Top with more of the red pepper puree. Eat.
per serving estimation (1/4 dish + some puree)