DSCN0894I guess I should start off by apologizing for the Test Kitchen hiatus. I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks moving apartments and traveling (bachelor party in Vegas), so the blog has been put on the back burner for a little while. But moving apartments has meant changing kitchens, and the new kitchen blows the old one away. It’s been really nice having fancier appliances, like an oven whose settings actually correspond to the temperature inside of it, and being able to organize all my stuff so that it’s convenient. Even though being slightly organized goes completely against my nature, it’s made cooking things much easier.

I decided for my first post in a few weeks, I should get back to the basics: making a dish that’s cheap, semi-healthy and copious. This tomato paella fits the bill and is surprisingly satisfying despite being meatless. This version isn’t vegetarian because I used some homemade chicken stock I had in the freezer, but there’s no reason you couldn’t substitute water or vegetable stock if you’re some kind of masochist. The key to this dish is pimenton, or smoked paprika. The smokiness gives the paella a meaty quality that you won’t get with regular paprika, so I would definitely recommend picking up the smoked stuff. Honestly, I wish I’d used it even more in my dish.

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2 cups rice

3 1/2 cups stock of choice (I used chicken, but vegetable stock or water will work)

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes

1 medium onion

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 or 2 large garlic cloves

2 teaspoons pimenton

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tomatoes into thick wedges. In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat stock in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  2. Pour the rest of your olive oil into an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Mince onion and garlic and add to hot oil, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until softened, then add tomato paste and pimenton. Stir until spices and paste are incorporated and fragrant, about another minute.
  3. Add rice and stir until grains are shiny and the vegetables are incorporated. Pour in stock and cover the top of the rice and liquid  with the tomato slices. Place your pan in the oven (very carefully if you’re using a 10-inch skillet and it gets as full as mine), and cook undisturbed for 15 minutes.
  4. Test rice for doneness. If it’s still crunchy, add a little more stock or water and continue to cook until rice is tender. Remove from oven and let it sit 5 or 10 minutes. Mark Bittman recommends putting your pan over a high flame for a few minutes to develop a crust on the bottom of the paella; I’ll probably wait until I go all in on paella with shrimp and stuff before I do that. I was too hungry to let this sit for much longer.