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Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian paella is a crowd-pleasin’, all-season dish that’s easy to prepare and absolutely craveable. The saffron-scented socarrat is the highlight of paella, of course, so serve with your favorite veggies and create a meal all will love! {Vegan, gluten-free}

Vegetarian Paella from SoupAddict.com

Jammin’ over a repeat of this dinner recently, I wondered, not for the first time, how a centuries’ old dish, once considered a peasant’s meal, could be so incredibly delicious by our modern standard of salt-fat-sugar overload.

The answer, of course, is simple: fresh ingredients + unfussy preparation = full flavor and maximum enjoyment.

Vegetarian paella is all of these things, and more. You take your favorite vegetables and combine them with plump rice and season it all in a savory saffron broth. One pan, so simple, it’s practically magic.

Vegetarian Paella from SoupAddict.com

I hope you’ve all had paella at some point in your lives. 🙂 It’s my favorite food for a crowd, especially in the summer when you can cook it up on your grill, and it becomes a central gathering point as you, the clever chef, layer ingredients one after the other, in ways that seem puzzling to those not in know, and half an hour later -boom!- you’ve got the most amazing savory dish that peeps just can’t help themselves from going back and getting seconds.

Serve it up with some frosty margaritas, and you’ve got yourself a party!

Some folks worry — unnecessarily, let’s get that right out there — that paella is as hands-on a rice dish as is risotto. All stir-stir-stir-stir-stir.

It’s not.

It’s the opposite of risotto, in fact. With paella, you don’t. stir. the. rice. because you want it to cook to the point of almost sticking to the pan, where it forms a thin, toasty layer of golden rice. Toasty rice, people! That’s where it’s at.

In the fourth photo of the collage above, you can just make out the browned rice, scooped up just beneath the spatula. Perfection!

Vegetarian Paella from SoupAddict.com

Now, today, it’s not quite summer yet #impatienttoetapping but it’s still the perfect time to talk about paella, because you can make paella outside and inside: stove top or grill grate, it’s all good.

Take a moment to dig that groove: stovetop paella! The traditional paella pans (see below) work equally well inside on the stove as they do outside on a grill. Vegan paella, all year long!

And I also want to emphasize the vegetable-strong balance of this vegetarian paella. Paella is traditionally used with whatever protein is on hand — chicken, clams, shrimp, sausage, rabbit (whut!) — but IMO paella’s delectable flavor comes from the combo of the rice, the sofrito vegetables (onions, garlic, and peppers), and the saffron and pimenton (smoked paprika).

Replacing the meat with vegetables is an awesome way to healthy up this dish, and get more of those soon-to-be-everywhere summer veggies into your grateful body.

For interesting texture and a little hit of spicy sausage flair, I’ve added vegetarian chorizo sausage, which — and I know this is being a little sneaky — should visually satisfy your skeptical carnivores that you’re not just trying to pass off something that’s less of a meal, and more of a side dish.

(But if you really need meeeaaat in your paella, see my paella recipe prepared on the grill, with step-by-step photos = baby blog flashback!)

Vegetarian Paella from SoupAddict.com

If you need more proof that paella is an awesome meal for a crowd, check out the photos from the Stone Soup party that my friends at La Soupe had last fall, featuring their ginormous paella pan. (And while you’re on the site, learn all about this amazing, award-winning non-profit that tackles both childhood hunger and food waste in one swoop, using soup as the catalyst. <<< SoupAddict loves dat!)

And speaking of paella pans … I do want to share my love of my decade+ old 15″ paella pan (affiliate link). They’re available in a staggering array of sizes (did you see the La Soupe photos, lol?), and work great on both stove top and grill, radiating heat efficiently across its carbon steel surface.

Plus, those red handles. 😀

Karen xo

 
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Vegetarian Paella | Recipe at SoupAddict.com
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5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian paella is a crowd-pleasin', all-season dish that's easy to prepare and absolutely craveable. The saffron-scented socarrat is the highlight of paella, of course, so serve with your favorite veggies and create a meal all will love!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 355kcal
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 link vegetarian chorizo sausage sliced thin
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2-3 big slices piquillo peppers chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper chopped
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 10-15 stems of saffron crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup Bomba rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 zucchini cut into matchsticks
  • 1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts

Instructions

  • If grilling, prepare your grill for direct heat. On stovetop, turn heat to medium. In a large skillet or 15" paella pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the vegetarian sausage, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently (double-check your package directions for optimal cooking technique).
  • Add the onions and peppers and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and sprinkle the spices over the vegetables. Spread the rice evenly over the vegetables, pour in the stock, and give a gentle stir, just to cover the rice and vegetables with the stock.
  • Then, don't stir any more until the rice cooked, about 20 minutes. The rice will be plump, and most of the stock will be absorbed. With a wide spatula, scrape a path through the paella, checking for the formation of soccarat.
  • Add the zucchini and artichokes, and stir until heated through.
  • Serve immediately. Stash leftover in the fridge - they're fabulous the next day, too.

Nutrition

Calories: 355kcal
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.

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Laura

Monday 3rd of September 2018

We grilled this up at a cookout recently with vegetables from our garden, and we all agreed this will be going into regular dinner rotation. I was always too intimidated by paella, but felt more confident using vegetables instead of shellfish. The saffron rice ... so good!

Tess

Thursday 29th of June 2017

Yummy