With a bowl full of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes ripening on the kitchen counter, it is paella season once again. Some years ago when Mark Bittman was developing recipes for The Minimalist column in the New York Times, he wrote about the pleasure of a simple tomato paella. I made it one night for dinner, fully expecting that I would have leftovers for lunch the next day, and the two of us wiped out the whole pan within minutes of serving. That recipe was my starting point, and you can still find his video online if you want to give it a try.
I used Calrose rice instead of the traditional Bomba. Specialty rice was difficult to come by during the quarantine, and I am still well stocked with various grains that need to be used before more are purchased. And you don’t need to go buy a traditional paella pan to get the job done. Pictured is my ten-inch Calphalon sauté pan, and it works perfectly for the two of us and a cup of rice. If you want to take the time to arrange the tomatoes in a pattern, just turn off the heat for a few minutes after the liquid goes into the pan and turn it back on once they are in place. Rice is much more forgiving than one might imagine.
The Romano pole beans are also fresh from the garden. After washing and snapping, they only need a quick steam and a toss with butter and coarse salt to be amazing.
A break in the heat let us eat outside on the deck under the umbrella. That’s an Aperol spritz in the wine glass made with the 3-2-1 countdown method. Count to three as you pour the prosecco, two for the Aperol, and one for the seltzer to top it off. I know the trend has passed, but it’s an awfully pleasant summer drink, especially al fresco.
Enjoy tomato season!