The perfect Sunday family meal, our Vegetarian Paella is a recipe to prepare and enjoy with the family, packed with Spanish flavors and lovely vegetables, our dish will make your Sunday meal extra special.
I don't know if you have been to Spain but I'm sure you have heard enough about Spanish Paella. A rice dish prepared in a paella pan made with a lovely base and broth and packed full of vegetables and spices (if you are going for the veggie option).
Paella is served all around Spain but depending on the region you are in, you will be able to find different types of paellas. Where we live, in Mallorca, you can find Mediterranean-style paellas with seafood and seasonal veggies.
I grew up watching my grandparents cook Paella every weekend for the family. It was the perfect meal after spending the morning at the beach. When I told my grandma I became vegetarian she told me: Don't worry, I keep a vegetarian paella recipe from my mum that we can make next time.
As a typical Spanish Mama, I enjoy preparing Paella for the family on Sundays. Homecooked Paella is always better and cheaper if you are using the right ingredients.
Our Paella Recipe is:
- Packed full of veggies
- Family friendly
How to start your Paella - Base
A Vegetarian Paella needs a flavourful base to help get the perfect taste without the need of adding too much salt or stock. For our base, we prepare a rich sauce using fresh tomatoes, a little bit of red pepper, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, paella spices, and a little bit of sugar.
With all these ingredients perfectly cooked and blended you will have a rich tomato sauce that will be later used as our base for the dish.
I would say the most important two spices you need to have in hand when making Paella are saffron and smoked paprika. They will give your paella the proper Spanish taste you are looking for.
That said, when we cook Paella we always have at home a Paella seasoning sachet and you should too! They are absolutely convenient when making Paella as they have the right spice blend you need. They are normally vegan and gluten-free which makes them even better.
So the next important ingredient you will need for this Vegetarian Paella is Paella rice. I'm used to finding this type of rice really easily in supermarkets as we live in Spain, but I guess it's not so easy when you live outside Spain. The type of rice needed is "Arroz Bomba" (Bomba Rice). It absorbs the flavors of the broth and it doesn't get mushy or sticky.
Alternatives to Bomba Rice
I've read some people use Risotto rice to prepare Paella if they cannot find Bomba Rice. I would personally try finding it online before using Risotto rice, if you are making Paella, make it properly!
How to get the rice cooked to perfection
The first thing you need to do is count for how many people you are cooking the Paella. We calculate around 100 grams of rice per person and I always count an additional person so I'm sure I cook enough for seconds.
To cook the rice properly, you will need the perfect ratio. I've been using the same ratio for years and it always works perfectly: 3,5 times more liquid than rice, using Bomba Rice.
The last important thing when making Paella is to leave it resting before serving for 5 minutes when the rice is almost completely cooked. I can tell you I hated those five minutes when I was a kid but they are really important to get the perfect rice texture.
Vegetarian Paella Stock or Broth
Once you have your base, spices, and rice sorted, you need to make sure you are using the right stock or broth. A homemade broth will always be your best option when making Vegetarian Paella but not the fastest.
When we don't have stock in the freezer, we use a vegetable stock cube. A good quality vegetable stock cube should be perfect to prepare your broth for the dish.
Which veggies should I add to my Paella?
You can add almost any veggie to your Vegetarian Paella. Our favorites are red pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onion, artichokes, peas, zucchinis, spinach, asparagus, or aubergine.
Get plenty of veggie for your paella. The more the merrier.
Paella is the perfect main dish for a weekend day. You can of course make Paella during a weekday but it takes a bit of time to prepare and it's a meal that you want to enjoy without being in a rush.
Once your veggie paella is cooked, you can add roasted peppers on the top and slices of lemons for a nice presentation. As well, many families prepare a little dressing made of chopped parsley and garlic, called Picadillo to add on the top, or an alioli (Spanish garlic mayo) to serve with your paella. You can find a recipe for alioli here by Spanish Sabores.
Our favorite way to serve the Paella is with sliced fresh Italian green peppers and radish with oil and vinegar on the side.
Serve the Paella while hot and leave any leftovers covered in case people want to have seconds. If you have Paella leftovers, you can keep them in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Do I Need a Paella Pan to make Paella?
My short answer would be no, you won't need a proper Paella Pan to make a Paella at home. Is it ideal to use a Paella Pan? Yes, it is! If you have one, make sure you get it ready for this recipe and if you are thinking of making Paella regularly, I would recommend you to buy one.
You can buy an inexpensive Paella Pan online. Make sure to get the right size. Normally I make Paella for 4-6 people so we have a small pan at home.
Another way to cook your Paella if you don't have a Paella pan would be a frying pan. I've seen people cooking paella in a cast iron pot, but I wouldn't really recommend that. Once the Paella is cooking it should not be stirred, so you need a shallow pan.
If you have an outdoor area, you can get a Paella set, to cook it with a gas ring. If you are using induction, make sure to get a Paella Pan that can be put on induction.
Vegetarian Paella Step by Step
When Making Vegetarian Paella Don't Forget...
- Once you put the rice evenly in the pan, it won't need stirring.
- While cooking the paella you may need to add more water or stock than the recipe asks for if the rice is cooking too fast and no water is left.
- The heat needs to be low-medium to make sure you don't burn the rice on the bottom.
- The more veggies you add, the better! A vegetarian Paella should have a wide variety of veggies.
- Don't forget to turn off the heat when the rice is nearly cook and leave the Paella to rest (covered) for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve Paella with lemon, it gives the rice the last touch.
For the Paella Base
- 3 plum tomatoes
- ¼ red pepper
- ½ yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 sachet Paella Seasoning
- Salt and pepper
Veggies (Add more or less to your taste)
- ½ jar artichokes in oil
- 1 small zucchini
- ½ eggplant or aubergine
- 2 carrots
- ½ red pepper
- ¼ broccoli
- ¼ cauliflower
- ½ cup peas
Rice and Stock
- 500 grams bomba rice
- 1,75 litres vegetables stock
- Roasted jarred red peppers
- Sliced Italian green peppers
- Sliced radish
- To prepare the base of the paella heat some olive oil in a pan and add chopped tomatoes, red peppers, onions and garlic. Leave cooking on medium heat while you stir regularly. All the veggies need to be soft and cooked properly to make the base really flavourful.
- Add the sweet paprika, Paella Seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes and transfer the ingredients into a blender jug. Blend until you have a smooth and rich tomato sauce.
- Place your pan or Paella pan on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil from the artichokes or olive oil. When hot, add the Paella base and all the veggies finely chopped. Leave the peas for later as they cook faster. Cook the veggies stirring occasionally for about 10-12 minutes.
- Add your vegetable stock and set your temperature on medium-low. Wait for the broth to simmer and add the rice evenly so you don't have places with no rice or places with too much rice. Use a spatula to make sure the rice is evenly placed.
- Leave your Paella cooking (simmering) until all the broth is absorved and the rice is cooked (22-25 minutes), If some places on your pan are too dry and the rice is still not cooked, you can pour some more stock or water. Make sure to add just a bit at the time. If you think the rice is getting stuck or burnt at the bottom, you can gently stir the paella once and set the rice to cook again or keep adding water. It's important that the paella stays moist while cooking.
- When the rice is nearly cooked add the peas, turn off the heat, cover the pan with tinfoil paper and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- Your Paella will be now ready to serve. Adjust with salt to taste.
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