I went through a phase where I was totally vegetarian in my late teens, but as my parents were not entirely supportive of the idea I prepared a lot of my own meals. I really did not know what to cook, and vegetarian cookbooks were few and far between, so I rotated between homemade vegetarian pizza, lasagna and stir fry most nights. I really wish I had a cookbook like Linda’s Kitchen back then. Published in 1995, this wonderful book by the late Linda McCartney is full of simple and delicious recipes for meals without meat.
I do eat meat now but my family and I love vegetarian meals and this is one of our favourites. It’s a great dish for a casual dinner party or a big family meal as you can put it in the middle of the table so that everyone can help themselves. Along with a bit of crusty bread, this paella makes a meal that is both nutritious and delicious, as well as being perfect for Meatless Monday, or Meat Free Monday as we call it here in England.
I’ve had my copy of Linda’s Kitchen for over ten years now, and when I looked on Google it looks like the only way to get a copy is from someone who is parting with theirs, for example on Amazon’s marketplace. If you can get hold of one, it’s well worth adding to your cookbook collection.
Linda McCartney’s Best Vegetable Paella
Adapted from Linda’s Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red or white onion, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2½ cups long grain rice
6 to 7 cups vegetable stock
a large pinch of saffron strands
4 cloves garlic
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1 cup mange tout or snow peas
4 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped (fresh or canned)
1 cup cooked artichoke hearts, halved (I use canned – drain them first – or frozen)
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
salt and pepper to taste
finely grated vegetarian cheese, to serve
(I use Bookhams Vegetarian Pasta Cheese)
Soak the saffron strands in a couple of tablespoons of the vegetable stock.
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok. Add the chopped onion and mushrooms and cook over a gentle heat until they begin to soften and the onion is turning translucent. Stir in the red pepper.
Add the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes. Add the stock a bit at a time, simmering until each addition is absorbed. (You may need slightly more or less stock.)
When you have added enough stock that the rice is tender, add the saffron with the stock it soaked in and grate in the garlic. Stir in the mange tout, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and thawed peas. Continue cooking for five minutes or so until the mange tout are tender crisp and all the vegetables have heated through.
Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve with the grated cheese to hand round.