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?
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:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 green garlic shoots or 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- A quarter of a red pepper, sliced
- 8 asparagus, sliced
- 7 white button mushrooms, quartered
- 1/2 cup tomato purée
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 3/4 cups water
- 1 spring of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- Pinch of saffron
- 350 grams (12 oz) of bomba rice (paella rice)
- Quartered artichoke hearts
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Lemon slices
- Using a paella pan or other wide pan measuring approximately 25 cm (10 inches) on the bottom, pour the oil into the middle of the pan and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt in a circle around the oil. Heat over medium heat and add the green garlic shoots or garlic to the oil. Try not to mix in the salt at this point. Fry until soft and translucent, then remove from pan and reserve.
- Now bring about a quarter of the salt into the oil and add the red pepper to the oil. Fry until crisp-tender. The vegetables will steam a bit more with the rice so be careful to keep them a bit crisp at this point. Remove and reserve with the garlic.
- Bring another quarter of the salt into the oil and add the asparagus. Fry until crisp tender then remove and reserve with the pepper.
- Finally, bring in the last bit of salt to the oil and add the mushrooms. Fry until beginning to soften then remove and reserve with the other vegetables.
- Add the tomato purée to the pan and simmer over high heat for about 2 minutes until reduced and very thick. Add in the vegetable stock and water and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary, paprika, laurel and soy sauce and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to minimum and add the saffron and 1 teaspoon of salt. Leave for 30 minutes on the lowest heat. It should not be simmering, just a tiny wisp of steam coming off the pan.
- After 30 minutes remove the rosemary and bay leaf and add the rice and spread it out around the pan. Raise heat to high and boil for 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the fried vegetables, quartered artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes to the rice and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 6 minutes. By now the rice should be cooked through but not mushy and the liquid absorbed. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon slices.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 290Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3224mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 6gSugar: 7gProtein: 9g