Tag Archives: saffron

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Paella

paella Madhouse

If you’ve been watching What’s Cooking on Channel 4, you may have seen Jo Pratt cooking up a storm during the first week. I first met Jo a few years’ ago, when she was planning her first (gorgeous-looking and hugely successful) book In the Mood for Food. She wrote another after that, went off and had two beautiful babies and has returned to the world of TV, books and other foodie things with her new book Madhouse Cookbook, which I’ve been working on with her.

The premise of the book is really simple. It’s billed as a life-transforming collection of recipes for busy parents – for surviving the stressful week, coping with hectic weekends and enabling you to cling onto your social life. All of the dishes have been devised to make life easy – with shortened preparation and cooking times, brilliant plan-ahead tips and ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Leftover’ mini-recipes to make those precious moments you spend cooking go further.

I made her Baked Seafood Paella yesterday. As Jo says, this is a “real-life recipe”. You don’t need a special paella pan and, instead of having to stir and continually do things, you simply prep it then put it in the oven and let it cook itself. It really is spectacularly easy – and it’s a great recipe if you’re having friends round for dinner, as well as a lovely one for the whole family.

gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free,

Makes: 4 adult portions     Preparation time: 20 minutes     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 300g/10½oz/1⅓ cups paella rice
  • 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dry white wine
  • a large pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika or standard sweet paprika
  • 750ml/26fl oz/3 cups hot gluten-free and dairy-free fish or chicken stock
  • 500g/1lb 2oz shellfish, such as mussels and/or clams
  • 2 medium squid tubes, cut into rings
  • 150g/5½oz/scant 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or fresh green beans, chopped
  • 8–12 raw, whole king prawns
  • ½ small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Scrub the mussels thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove all traces of grit, then remove any barnacles or other debris attached to the shells and pull off and discard any beards. Rinse again and discard any mussels that stay open.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
  3. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the rice for a minute or so until it is coated in the oil, then add the wine, saffron, paprika and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil, then bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the mussels and/or clams, squid and peas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Nestle the prawns into the surface. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Make sure all the prawns are pink and discard any mussel or clam shells that haven’t opened.
  5. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Provide empty bowls for the shells, and a few finger bowls of warm water and plenty of napkins for messy fingers.

Paella Mixta:
If your friends aren’t massively into seafood, then make your paella with chicken and chorizo. Add 150g/5½oz thickly sliced or chopped chorizo and 4 roughly chopped chicken thighs to the fried onion and cook until the chicken is golden. Add the rice and follow the recipe as above, but just using prawns and not the mussels or squid.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Paella

paella Madhouse

If you’ve been watching What’s Cooking on Channel 4, you may have seen Jo Pratt cooking up a storm during the first week. I first met Jo a few years’ ago, when she was planning her first (gorgeous-looking and hugely successful) book In the Mood for Food. She wrote another after that, went off and had two beautiful babies and has returned to the world of TV, books and other foodie things with her new book Madhouse Cookbook, which I’ve been working on with her.

The premise of the book is really simple. It’s billed as a life-transforming collection of recipes for busy parents – for surviving the stressful week, coping with hectic weekends and enabling you to cling onto your social life. All of the dishes have been devised to make life easy – with shortened preparation and cooking times, brilliant plan-ahead tips and ‘Lifesaver’ and ‘Leftover’ mini-recipes to make those precious moments you spend cooking go further.

I made her Baked Seafood Paella yesterday. As Jo says, this is a “real-life recipe”. You don’t need a special paella pan and, instead of having to stir and continually do things, you simply prep it then put it in the oven and let it cook itself. It really is spectacularly easy – and it’s a great recipe if you’re having friends round for dinner, as well as a lovely one for the whole family.

gluten-free, dairy-free, soya-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free,

Makes: 4 adult portions     Preparation time: 20 minutes     Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 300g/10½oz/1⅓ cups paella rice
  • 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup dry white wine
  • a large pinch of saffron strands
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika or standard sweet paprika
  • 750ml/26fl oz/3 cups hot gluten-free and dairy-free fish or chicken stock
  • 500g/1lb 2oz shellfish, such as mussels and/or clams
  • 2 medium squid tubes, cut into rings
  • 150g/5½oz/scant 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted, or fresh green beans, chopped
  • 8–12 raw, whole king prawns
  • ½ small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Scrub the mussels thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove all traces of grit, then remove any barnacles or other debris attached to the shells and pull off and discard any beards. Rinse again and discard any mussels that stay open.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.
  3. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and red pepper and fry for about 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Stir in the rice for a minute or so until it is coated in the oil, then add the wine, saffron, paprika and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil, then bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the mussels and/or clams, squid and peas and season lightly with salt and pepper. Nestle the prawns into the surface. Return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through. Make sure all the prawns are pink and discard any mussel or clam shells that haven’t opened.
  5. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with lemon wedges. Provide empty bowls for the shells, and a few finger bowls of warm water and plenty of napkins for messy fingers.

Paella Mixta:
If your friends aren’t massively into seafood, then make your paella with chicken and chorizo. Add 150g/5½oz thickly sliced or chopped chorizo and 4 roughly chopped chicken thighs to the fried onion and cook until the chicken is golden. Add the rice and follow the recipe as above, but just using prawns and not the mussels or squid.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Jewelled Persian Rice

Last weekend Peter, Zoe and I went to stay with a friend (also called Peter) who lives near Saffron Walden in Essex. It was wonderfully sunny and we swam outside for the first time this year (hard to believe now, after the gales we’ve had this week…) Huge thanks, Peter, for a truly lovely weekend – full of great fun and delicious food!


We wandered around Saffron Walden itself, too – a medieval market town that was originally called Chipping Walden. Initially the town’s primary trade was in wool but in the 16th century and 17th century saffron became widely grown in the area. This precious plant was used in medicines, as a condiment, a perfume, an aphrodisiac, a yellow dye, and a (luxury) ingredient. This industry gave its name to the town and Chipping Walden became known as Saffron Walden.

When I came home I wanted to make a recipe using saffron – and found this one for Jewelled Persian Rice.

This recipe comes from the recently-published New Vegetarian Kitchen that has been named one of the top 10 vegetarian cookbooks by The Independent. Written by Nicola Graimes, an award-winning cookery writer and ex-editor of Vegetarian Living, it’s full of truly inspirational recipes that prove that there’s a lot more to vegetarian cooking than pastas and bean burgers!

It’s always great to find a new way to cook rice as it’s such an important staple on a gluten-free diet. The wonderful flavours of the saffron strands, with the cinnamon and cumin seeds, give the rice a lovely exotic flavour and the onion, courgette, dried fruits and nuts add even more delicious flavours and textures. And this method is wonderful – you get light, fluffy rice that’s absolutely not stodgy or watery – and with a slightly crunchy crust. Lovely! I couldn’t find dried barberries locally so I used dried cranberries instead.

gluten-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, egg-free, seed-free

Serves 4     Preparation time 10 minutes, plus 1 hour soaking the rice if you like     Cooking time 20 minutes

  • 250g/9oz/1¼ cups basmati rice
  • ½ tsp salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • ½ tsp saffron strands
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 courgette, diced
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 60g/2¼oz/⅓ cup unsulphured dried apricots, chopped
  • 55g/2oz/⅓ cup blanched almonds, chopped
  • 35g/1¼oz butter
  • 3 tbsp dried barberries
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. If time allows, soak the rice for 1 hour, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Put the rice and salt in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 4 minutes. Drain again and set aside. Clean the pan.
  2. Put the saffron and 4 tablespoons hot water in a small bowl and set aside to infuse. Meanwhile, heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and fry the onion for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the courgette and cook for another 3 minutes, then stir in the orange zest, cumin seeds, cinnamon, dried apricots and almonds. Add the saffron and its soaking liquid, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Heat the butter and remaining oil in the cleaned saucepan over a medium-low heat. When melted, add half of the rice and top with half of the vegetable mixture, then layer again with the rest of the rice and then the vegetable mixture. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke five holes into the rice and pour 1 teaspoon of boiling water into each. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a low heat for 10–15 minutes until the rice is tender and there is a light golden ‘crust’ on the bottom. Sprinkle with the barberries and serve.

Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Detox Persian Rice with Tomato & Saffron Sauce

It’s the 2nd weekend of my detox and it’s all going well! I’ve just made a lovely recipe from Max Tomlinson’s book, Clean Up Your Diet. Doing a detox is tough – there’s no getting around that. But there are so many benefits, including the fact that you find that you really appreciate the tastes, textures and aromas of foods in their pure state. And this recipe is a great example of that. I used puy lentils, and their nutty taste combines with the delicious sweet tastes from the nutmeg, pistachios, pine nuts and sweetened onions. Then there’s just enough lemon juice to give the whole dish a wonderful tanginess – and also to stop you wanting to add any salt to the dish. And all finished off with a great fresh tomato sauce and sprinklings of fresh coriander.

This recipe shows how when you cook vegetables very gently, you can bring out their deep, often sweet, flavours. To caramelize the onions here, there’s no sugar – but instead you cook them gently in water first to soften them and then gently fry them.

I have to admit that I didn’t bother to remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes – completely up to you whether you want to or not.

gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, yeast-free, soya-free, egg-free, seed-free

Preparation time 30 minutes     Cooking time 1 hour     Serves 2

Ingredients:

140g/5oz/⅔ cup brown rice, rinsed
4 tbsp green lentils, rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 litre/35fl oz/4½ cups water
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
450g/1lb ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp unsalted pistachio nuts, lightly toasted
20 gratings nutmeg
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp lemon juice
2 pinches saffron threads
a small bunch coriander, to serve

  1. Put the rice, lentils, bay leaves and 900ml/30fl oz/scant 4 cups water in a saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  2. Meanwhile, put the sliced onion, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 150ml/5fl oz/3⁄4 cup water in a frying pan over a medium to low heat and cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and sweet. Increase the heat to high and boil off any excess water, then cook the onions for about 8 minutes until brown and caramelized. Watch them carefully and stir frequently to prevent them burning.
  3. While the onion and rice are cooking, skin the tomatoes. Cut a cross in the top of each tomato and put them in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and leave for 10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the water using a slotted spoon, and peel off the skin when they are cool enough to handle. Discard the seeds and roughly chop the tomato flesh.
  4. Put the chopped onion and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and cook for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raise the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened slightly but have not collapsed. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the lemon juice.
  5. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the pine nuts, pistachios, caramelized onions, nutmeg and the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  6. Divide the rice between two plates and spoon over the tomato sauce. Scatter over the coriander and serve.