Fair warning: this may not be the quickest vegan paella recipe out there – most other interweb recipes will try to convince you that it can be done in 30 minutes. But guess what, paella isn’t supposed to be quick.
After all, what’s going to give the rice all its flavour besides the deep, rich, well-simmered broth? If you want a truly fantastic vegan paella rather than simple boiled rice with vegetables, you need to give it time.
So my husband (he’s Spanish) has been harassing me for a long time to make paella. Why would I do it if he’s the Spanish one – shouldn’t he know how?
He has previously convinced me to veganize some of his favorite Spanish dishes like this mushroom fideua and this Spanish omelet, but I was holding out on the paella.
Guess what? I won and he caved ... sort of. He promised to do a vegan paella if I helped him. Lucky for me helping only involved standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine (or two, I warned you - paella takes time).
He looked up a Valencian paella recipe made with meat and tried to simply swap out the meat for vegetables. Our first problem with this method, which is the problem that I see with most other vegetable paella recipes online, is that softer vegetables like peppers and asparagus end up overcooked and mushy by the end of it.
Back to the drawing board. This time we looked up vegetable paella recipes, but most of these recipes omitted the important step of making the sofrito.
The sofrito is the flavour base of paella and without it you’ve just got a bland, boring dish of rice and vegetables (no matter if you put it in a paella pan).
The sofrito starts by infusing oil with the flavours of the vegetables, then adding in tomato purée and simmering off the extra water. Finally, add in your vegetable stock, herbs and seasonings and cook it over very low heat for 30 minutes to intensify the flavours.
The longer it cooks, the darker and more flavourful your paella will be. Only now can you add your rice and cook, without stirring, for a further 20 minutes or so. See? I wasn’t kidding that good paella takes time.
So after three attempts and a combination of techniques, we’ve finally got a vegan paella that we’re happy with and here it is: A deep, richly flavored vegan paella with a selection of seasonal vegetables. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Spring Vegetable Vegan Paella
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3224mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g
A deep, richly flavored vegan paella with a selection of seasonal vegetables.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
I made this last night, and while the flavors turned out well, the recipe is really poorly written.
A) Couldn't find tomato puree in the store. I googled it and apparently other people get confused by this too. I took a tomato and put it in the food processor.
B) In Step #5 it mentions laurel? Not in the list of ingredients. What is that?
C) I couldn't find bomba rice. At Whole Foods. They had different types of rice I had never heard of. The internet told me to use short grain rice.
D) You didn't list quantities for artichoke hears or sun-dried tomatoes. I winged it.
E) AND THIS IS THE BIG ONE. I followed the timing in step 6 to the letter. And then it took me an extra 45 minutes of cook time afterwards to get the rice to not be raw/al dente. And then my veggies were soggy, which is what you said you didn't want to happen in the beginning. I used a risotto type technique to get it cooked. My dinner guests were starving. Ended up serving it still not quite done. What a disaster. When you make this, add another 45 minutes to the prep time, and make sure that your rice is almost finished before adding your veggies for a final 6 minutes.
The recipe calls for bomba rice because it was written to demonstrate the cooking technique of this specific variety of rice and how we use it to make paella in Spain. Substituting other varieties of rice is not appropriate as they cook differently and I cannot guarantee that this technique will work with all other varieties of rice. Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation of what tomato puree is. If you can't find it in a can, it's really easy to make at home. Here's a good instructional from The Kitchn. Laurel and bay is the same plant.
Just made this last night and it turned out great! I couldn't find tomato puree at the grocery store so I used tomato sauce instead - the texture may have been a little off, but still tastes delicious. I also couldn't find bomba/paella rice so I used short grain rice and it cooked perfectly.
Will definitely make this again. Thanks for sharing!
Oh great, so happy it worked with short grain rice, it can be hit or miss when substituting. Thanks for your lovely comment!