DinnerRecipes

Vegetable Paella Recipe

posted by Melissa Huggins February 19, 2018 6 Comments
Fully cooked and prepared Vegetable Paella in a pan.

With its distinctive golden color, smoky flavor, and caramelized crust, this Vegetable Paella will bring everyone together for this mouth-watering meal.

Fully cooked Vegetable Paella in a metal paella pan. Topped with artichokes, bell peppers and peas.

When we first moved to Arizona we experienced our first authentic paella at a Spanish restaurant in Scottsdale. We were in love! It was hearty, aromatic and full of addictive flavors.

It’s a family-style meal that’s served in a paella pan right on your table. You don’t even need plates, you just dig right in! The ambiance of the restaurant is spot on with its rustic appeal and live Spanish music. We always have a great time when we go.

It’s an hour drive so we don’t get there as often as we’d like. So, I decided to make my own vegetable paella recipe. I asked the owner for some tips and his biggest piece of advice was never to stir the paella!

 One serving of Vegetable Paella on a black plate. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

The ingredients are fairly simple. You’ll need Olive Oil, Vegetable Broth, Saffron Threads, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Fresh Garlic, Tomato, Bomba Rice, Smoked Paprika, Sweet Paprika, Sea Salt, Pepper, Fresh Thyme (or dried), Frozen Peas, and Jarred Artichoke Hearts.

*Saffron gives the paella its distinct flavor which is somewhat earthy and floral. It’s very subtle but really finishes the dish. It also turns the rice to a beautiful golden color. It’s a little costly, so if it’s not in your budget you can replace it with turmeric. It will have a different flavor, but will still be subtle and make the rice golden. 

I use a paella pan which is ideal but not 100% necessary. It’s a wide, shallow and thin metal pan with sloped sides. Its flat and wide bottom is designed to maximize the amount of rice touching it. Which helps create a delicious, toasty crust at the bottom. The sloped and shallow sides help the rice cook evenly too.

Paella is traditionally cooked over a fire and the pans were designed for that, so they work best on gas tops, grills or fire pits, but I have used mine on an electric stove at a friend’s house. I had to rotate the pan more, but the rice still cooked nicely.

If you don’t have a paella pan, I would recommend a large stainless steel pan (don’t use non-stick).

Bag of Bomba rice for Vegetable Paella Recipe

The key to perfect Vegetable Paella

The best rice to use is Bomba Rice because it has the ability to absorb twice the amount of liquid than regular rice without getting mushy. This short-grain Spanish rice will also absorb all the flavors of your broth, seasonings, and oil too.

I highly recommend trying it out for a true paella experience. I buy it online because it’s not readily available in many mainstream stores. You might find it in specialty or ethnic shops though.

If you can’t find it, the next best replacement is Arborio Rice which is used in Risotto. It gets super creamy when liquid is stirred in slowly.

Paella is not meant to be creamy, so you definitely don’t want to stir the arborio or you’ll end up with risotto. In fact, you shouldn’t stir paella at all (even with bomba rice) once the broth has entered the pan.

Closeup photo of socarrat on bottom of pan. Socarrat

This is the crispy golden crust that forms on the bottom of the pan. It infuses the paella with a deep smoky and slightly nutty flavor. It’s glorious!

Once the broth starts cooking off, that’s when the socarrat magic starts to happen. You’ll hear a subtle snap, crackle and popping sound. Plus, you’ll smell a toasty aroma that’s just heavenly.

The crust takes about 2-4 minutes to form after the broth has mostly dissipated. You don’t want to stir the paella because it will disrupt this process. You’ll need to watch, listen and smell careful now because the bottom can burn easily.

Sometimes you might not get the socarrat to form and that’s ok. It all depends on the pan, fat content, heat source and experience. The more you cook paella, the better you’ll get at reading the signs.

I’ve had times where I left it too long and it burned. That is never fun, so it’s better to have no socarrat than burnt socarrat. Your paella will still be delicious without it.

Process cooking shots. Sautéed onions, bell peppers and garlic. Let’s get started

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add 4 cups of vegetable broth. Break up the saffron threads and add it to the broth. When it begins to simmer, give it 1 minute, and then lower the heat just to keep it warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch Paella Pan (or something similarly sized) over medium heat. Once heated, add a generous pinch of salt and the diced onions. Sauté until translucent for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the bell pepper strips and sauté until they are somewhat softened. This should take about 5-6 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent the garlic from burning.

Now add the diced tomatoes with juices, smoked & sweet paprika, salt & pepper (add the thyme here too, if not using fresh).

Process cooking shots. Sautéed vegetables and toasted rice. Sauté for another 2-3 minutes to soften the tomatoes and combine the seasonings together. Add the rice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Stir to coat well. Cook for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the rice and incorporate flavors. Move around occasionally to prevent sticking.

Slowly add only 3 3/4 cups of broth to the pan and keep remaining warm (you might not need it) and gently stir once to combine. Do not stir after this point or it will release starches and cause creamier rice.

Process cooking shots. Simmering broth, testing for socarrat and adding veggies at the end.After adding the broth, turn the heat to medium-high and bring the broth to a heavy simmer for 1-2 minutes. Now turn the heat down (between medium-low and medium heat) to a mild simmer. You want to see good movement in the pan while the broth is cooking down (don’t boil though).

Simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is al dente. If the broth seems to be cooking down too fast (or if you want softer rice), add the remaining 1/4 cup. You might want to rotate the pan 1-2 times during cooking for even heat distribution (no stirring though).

Once the broth is nearly cooked off, you will need to pay close attention to the socarrat forming on the bottom of the pan (the golden rice crust). You will start to hear a snap, crackle, and pop, along with smelling a nutty aroma. This should take 2-3 minutes to form (If it smells like it’s burning, remove from heat immediately).

Stick a fork or spoon straight to the bottom to test if it’s forming. You should feel the rice stuck to the bottom. Take a peek to make sure it’s not charring.

Now remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas and artichokes to the top of the rice (don’t mix in). Cover the pan with foil and let the paella rest for 5-10 minutes. Top with fresh-cut parsley, cracked pepper and side with lemon wedges to serve. Sprinkle top with salt if needed.

Enjoy!

 

 

I’d love to hear from you

If you make this Vegetable Paella Recipe, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.

5 from 2 votes
Vegetable Paella Recipe
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

With its distinctive golden color, smoky flavor, and caramelized crust, this Vegetable Paella will bring everyone together for this mouth-watering meal.

Course: Dinner, Entree
Recipe Type: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Servings: 4
Calories: 447 kcal
Author: Melissa Huggins
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil , divided
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 medium onion , diced
  • 1 red bell pepper , cut into long strips (1/2" wide)
  • 5 cloves garlic , chopped
  • 1 large tomato , diced (sub 1/2 cup canned)
  • 1 1/2 cups Bomba Rice (sub arborio rice)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt , more to taste
  • Fresh cracked pepper , to taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (sub 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas , thawed
  • 1 14 oz jar artichoke hearts , quartered
Garnish
  • Lemon wedges
  • Fresh-cut parsley
Instructions
  1. Add vegetable broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Break up the saffron and add it to the broth. When it begins to simmer, give it 1 minute, and then lower the heat just to keep it warm. 

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch Paella Pan (or something similarly sized) over medium heat. Once heated, add a generous pinch of salt and the onions. Sauté until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.  

  3. Now add the bell pepper strips and sauté until somewhat softened. About 5-6 minutes

  4. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Watch carefully to prevent the garlic from burning. 

  5. Now add the tomatoes (with juices), smoked & sweet paprika, salt & pepper (add the thyme here too, if not using fresh). Sauté for 2-3 minutes

  6. Add the rice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Stir to coat well. Cook for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the rice and incorporate flavors. Move around occasionally to prevent sticking. 

  7. Add the fresh thyme and slowly pour in only 3 3/4 cups broth to the pan and keep remaining 1/4 cup warm (you might not need it). Gently stir to combine. Do not stir after this point (it will release starches and cause creamier rice). Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the broth to a heavy simmer for 1-2 minutes

  8. Now turn the heat down (between medium-low and medium heat) to a mild simmer. You want to see movement in the pan while the broth is cooking down (don't boil though). Simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is al dente. If the broth seems to be cooking down too fast, slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of reserved broth. Rotate the pan on the burner 1-2 times during cooking for even heat distribution. 

  9. Once the broth is nearly cooked off, you will need to pay close attention to the socarrat forming on the bottom of the pan (the golden rice crust). You will start to hear a snap, crackle, and pop, along with smelling a nutty aroma. This should take 2-3 minutes to form. (If it smells like it's burning, remove from heat immediately) Stick a fork or spoon straight to the bottom to test if it's forming. (*see note).

  10. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas and artichoke to the top of the rice (don't mix in). Cover the pan with foil and let the paella rest for 5-10 minutes. Top with fresh-cut parsley, cracked pepper and side with lemon wedges to serve. Sprinkle top with salt if needed. Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

* Sometimes you might not get the socarrat to form and that's ok. It all depends on the pan, fat content, heat source and experience. The more you cook paella, the better you'll get at reading the signs. I've had times where I left it too long and it burned. That is never fun, so it's better to have no socarrat than burnt socarrat. Your paella will still be delicious without it. 

*Saffron gives the paella its distinct flavor which is somewhat earthy and floral. It's very subtle but really finishes the dish. It also turns the rice to a beautiful golden color. It's a little costly, so if it's not in your budget you can replace it with turmeric. It will have a different flavor, but will still be subtle and make the rice golden. 

If you don't have a paella pan, I would recommend a large stainless steel pan (don't use non-stick).

* Step-by-step photos above. 

 

Nutrition Facts
Vegetable Paella Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 447 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Sodium 655mg 27%
Potassium 481mg 14%
Total Carbohydrates 67g 22%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 5g
Protein 12g 24%
Vitamin A 33.2%
Vitamin C 69.6%
Calcium 3.1%
Iron 26.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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6 Comments

Erin Woodward February 24, 2018 at 6:20 pm

This was outstanding!!! And the best part is I have leftovers so I can enjoy it again! Thanks for a great recipe : )

Reply
Melissa Huggins February 24, 2018 at 7:51 pm

Thank you, Erin! I’m so happy you liked it! We had paella last night and the leftovers for lunch today. 🙂

Reply
Darryle June 5, 2018 at 5:49 pm

I made this dish when my mother-in-law was in town visiting and it was a hit with everyone. Delicious! I’ve made a few of your recipes so far and they are all excellent, thank you!

Reply
Melissa Huggins June 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Hi Darryle, this is so wonderful to hear! Thank you for making it and sharing your feedback 🙂

Reply
Denise Scena-Mayes June 13, 2018 at 10:29 am

I have made this several times….delicious. It’s what’s for dinner tonight.

Reply
Melissa Huggins June 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm

Thank you, Denise! I’m so happy that you liked it. Have a lovely week 🙂

Reply

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