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The Boston Globe

Food & dining

Sunday supper

Vegetarian paella one day, stuffed peppers the next

The birthplace of paella is the rice-growing region of Valencia, Spain, where it is still often cooked outdoors over an open fire in the classic wide, shallow pan. All cooks seem to have an opinion about the definitive list of ingredients and method for paella. So consider this improvised vegetarian version one that embraces the spirit of the dish, if not the conventional ingredients.

Spanish bomba rice, a medium-grain that absorbs liquid well and maintains firmness, is the classic kind to use, but Goya brand medium-grain rice and arborio (risotto rice) are good alternatives. One characteristic of paella is a crusty, caramelized bottom layer called soccarat. To obtain it, you will need a pan wide enough so the rice spreads to a ½-inch layer. Lacking that, divide the mixture between two smaller skillets. Move the pan from time to time so the rice cooks evenly, then bring it to the table, the traditional way. Your Sunday work pays off. Use paella to stuff colorful bell peppers and roast them on a fresh tomato sauce. More kitchen improvisation.

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