Arroz de tomate
You can skip blanching the tomatoes – I often do – but I’ve left it in for purists. You could use 50/50 passata and water here in place of the blitzed tomatoes, if you wanted to speed things up.
12 large, very ripe tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
A pinch of saffron
½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 fresh bay leaf, crumbled in your hand
350g paella rice
A small bunch of fresh parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
If you’d like to blanch your tomatoes, fill a large bowl with iced water and boil the kettle. Slit a cross in the base of three of the tomatoes, put in another, heatproof bowl, pour over freshly boiled water and let them sit for 15 seconds, then drain and transfer the tomatoes to the iced water. Once they are totally cool, drain and peel the tomatoes, throwing away the skins.
Quarter the three tomatoes and cut out the seeds, then add the seeds to a blender. Dice the flesh, then set aside for later.
Slice the rest of the tomatoes in half and add to the blender along with their seeds. Blitz until you have a thin, smooth puree. Put a sieve over a large bowl and pour in the tomato puree, leaving it to sit while you get on with a few other things.
Put an ovenproof saucepan over a medium-low heat and add a little olive oil, then add the onion and garlic. Sweat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has become lightly golden. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.
Add the saffron to the onion and cook, stirring all the time, for 2 minutes. Then stir in the paprika, season and cook for another 2 minutes.
Next, add the diced tomato flesh and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid from the tomatoes evaporates – about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato puree, bay leaf and enough oil to make the mixture sizzle. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture looks concentrated – about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, scrape the mixture into a bowl and set aside.
Have a look at the blitzed tomatoes in the sieve. Push as much juice through as possible, leaving behind just the seeds, which you can discard. Measure the tomato juice into a jug – you need 1.2 litres in total. If you are a little short, make it up to this amount with some tap water.
Reheat the same pan in which the tomatoes were cooked, then add the rice and 1 tbsp of oil. Stir until the rice is toasted – about 2 minutes. Stir in the concentrated tomato mixture and spread the rice evenly in the pan.
Let it cook for 2 minutes, then gently stir in about 500ml of tomato water. Spread the rice in an even layer and adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cook, without stirring, for 5 minutes.
Gently pour in another 500ml of the tomato water and sprinkle over plenty of black pepper, scraping up any rice stuck to the bottom of the pan. Spread in an even layer and simmer until the rice is almost al dente – about 15 minutes. Don’t stir the rice, because it will release starch and make the dish gummy.
Pour the remaining 200ml tomato water into the pan, transfer to the oven and bake until the rice is al dente, a light brown crust has formed on the bottom, and the tomato liquid is creamy – about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Serve with lots of chopped parsley.