The traditional Spanish rice dish...but vegan! Adding more peppers and peas and tomatoes to make this a filling, one pan meal for the whole family, ready in less than 45 minutes!
Does the word Paella remind you of a hot holiday by the beach, somewhere Mediterranean, or perhaps a food fair, huge paella dishes, 5" wide, filled with bubbling saffron rice and peppers and emerald green peas? More often than not, it will also be topped with seafood or chicken or rabbit. My version of delicious paella is full of fresh veg and lacks none of the flavour of the original!
Inspired by my Italian vegan risotto, my quirky roasted beetroot risotto, my speedy vegan gnocchi with broccoli and sausage and my plant-based soutsoukakia, comforting, homely and delicious recipes from the Mediterranean.
What is Paella?
Considered the dish of Valencia, although most people outside of Spain think of Paella as a Spanish dish, and I think it is probably cooked for tourists, as there is a certain expectation to try paella when you visit Spain.
Paella is the Valencian word for frying pan, and traditional paella is cooked in a wide, shallow frying pan (although one with handles on both sides).
Paella rice is used in this dish, to ensure the correct texture. Whilst Paella is creamy, it is not like risotto, nor is it dry. It is usually made using a short-grain rice called Bomba, although the rice I bought in Tesco was simply called Paella rice! You must use a short-grain rice though, and if you can't find paella or bomba, use arborio or even sushi rice.
The flavour of Paella comes from very simple ingredients: paprika, peas, stock, onion, peppers, saffron and olive oil. It has a rich, savory flavor, redolent of peppers, smoky from paprika and sweet from the onions and tomatoes. This dish is traditionally cooked outside, over an open flame which gives Paella a distinctive smoky taste; paprika works particularly well to replicate that flavor for the indoor cook.
The dish is very easy and quick to prepare and cook, and is a perfect supper dish, or lunch meal for several, as it doubles up very easily.
- paella rice (see substitutions)
- red bell pepper. There is no substitute for this.
- peas, I use frozen petits pois. More traditional recipes also use fresh broad beans
- saffron and paprika
- stock - I use Marigold bouillon. It imparts a rich stock flavor to the dish. Do not omit the stock.
(This is ONLY a list of ingredients for the recipe; please see recipe card below for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
After frying the peppers in olive oil, sauté the onions, garlic, tomato and peas until soft
Add the rice
Then add the stock, paprika and saffron
Simmer at high heat for 5 minutes before adding back the fried peppers and simmering gently for another 15 mins
Hint: if the rice looks like it is cooking a little dry but it still quite al dente, add another half cup of stock.
- Paella Rice - you can use any short grain rice, arborio, or even pudding rice or sushi rice, just rinse it through a couple of times first
- Veggies - feel free to add some more veggies if you like, sliced zucchini perhaps
- Spicy - add chili pepper flakes while cooking to imbue heat into the dish, or fresh chilis. This is not traditional though!
- Deluxe - add some vegan chicken pieces or chopped artichoke hearts
I recommend using a paella pan to cook your risotto in, however, I use a flat bottomed tarte tatin tin as I don't have a paella pan! The key is that the heat is distributed evenly on the bottom of the pan, so any heavy bottomed pan will work.
Store the cooled paella, covered in the fridge, and reheat thoroughly in a saucepan until piping hot. I actually prefer to eat my paella cold.
Vegan Paella doesn't stand up well to freezing.
Paella is delicious served lukewarm, and is a perfect lunchbox treat! This recipe makes enough for 4 lunches!
Simple but delicious vegan Paella
- 1 Paella Pan 12" dia or heavy based skillet or frying pan
- 4 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 Onion large, peeled and finely diced
- 3 Garlic cloves, peeled, finely diced
- 1 Bell Pepper red, deseeded, and cut into thin slices
- 1 Beefsteak Tomato cut into small dice
- ½ cup Peas frozen
- 1 cup Rice Paella
- 3 cups Vegetable Stock
- ¼ teaspoon Saffron
- 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Lemon cut into wedges
- Parsley fresh, finely chopped
- Heat the olive in the bottom of your paella pan, or skillet, and fry the sliced red peppers for 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and place to one side.
- Add the onions and garlic to the oil and cook until translucent.
- Add the chopped tomato and frozen peas, cook for a minute, then add the rice, stock, paprika and saffron.
- Cook over vigorous heat for 5 minutes before turning down to the lowest setting.
- Return the fried peppers to the top of the top and cook over low heat until the rice is tender.
- Once done, serve with lemon wedges and sprinkled with chopped parsley.