Ingredients: 1 medium Eggplant (cut into 1/2 1 cup Short grain brown rice 1 large Turkish bay leaf or 2 small 2 small Yellow or white onions (chopped into 1/2 2 Celery stalks (chopped into 1/2 1 medium Celery root (chopped into 1/2 1/2 lb. Mushrooms (chopped into 1/2 6 Garlic cloves (minced) 1/4 tsp Saffron 3 Tbsp. Paella Spice Mix 1 tsp Roasted Red Pepper Powder Add salt to taste 4 medium Roma Tomatoes or fleshy tomatoes 3 - 4 cups Boiling water (optional: 1/2 of the liquid can be chicken stock or dry white wine) 1&3/4 to 2 lbs. Shellfish fish and/or shellfish (suggestion: halibut, salmon, shrimp, scallop or other fatty fish) 1/2 cup Olive oil plus few spoonful's to grease the pan Juice from 1/2 lemon Black pepper to taste Fresh Italian parsley (few handfuls finely chopped)
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
Place cut eggplant into a bowl and add olive oil and salt; mix until coated. Place on an oiled baking pan and then cover with Silpat mat or parchment. Bake for 45 minutes until deep, golden brown. Set aside.
Wash one cup short-grain brown rice. Add salt and rice to 6 cups of boiling water. When contents begin to boil, turn off heat and let stand for about 30 minutes or until the rice is slightly crunchy. Drain and run cold water over the rice. Set aside. The rice will finish cooking as it is added to the paella base.
Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large oversized skillet. Add Turkish bay leaf, celery root, celery stalk and onions to the pan and sauté on high heat for 3-5 minutes; stir to prevent burning. Let the onion turn brown around the edges then, add the garlic and mushrooms to the cooking vegetables. Sauté all for about 5 minutes until softened.
Add Seasonings:saffron,paella spice mix,roasted bell pepper powder, andsalt&pepperdirectly to the vegetable mix. Stir slowly for 20 seconds, and then add the crunchy drained rice; stir slowly until almost soft. Add the cut tomatoes and lower the heat to medium, and cook until tomatoes release their liquid, about 2-5 minutes. Add 4-5 cups liquid (water, stock, or a combination of stock and white wine); add additional boiling water little by little (maybe ¼ – ½ cup at a time until the rice finishes cooking and absorbs all the liquid.) Longer cooking time without excessive additional water is the better technique for slow cooking. Adjust salt & pepper seasoning to taste.
Keep stirring to prevent the bottom from "over burning" and make sure the rice is absorbing the water as it cooks. Continue adding liquid as necessary. While the rice is completing the cooking process, wash and dry the fish and/or seafood. The fish must be at room temperature before you add to paella. Otherwise it will release additional moisture into the paella as it cooks. When the paella liquid is nearly absorbed and the rice cooked (taste for tenderness) add the fish and/or shellfish. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the fish over and continue cooking for 5 or so minutes until the fish flakes. Add a sprinkling of fresh ground black pepper and the chopped parsley. Add cooked eggplant, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve.
You can prepare this entire dish a day ahead of time. The flavors will concentrate. You may have to add a little bit more water to bring up to the desired consistency, but make sure you have a light hand with the liquid. Heat ONLY until paella reaches serving temperature.