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Vegetarian Paella (Ready in 30 Minutes!)

Paella! One of my favorite colorful dishes of all time. One of my favorite colorful dishes of all time. Loaded with lots of seasonal rainbow vegetables, saffron-infused rice, and plenty of flavors, this vegetarian paella is incredibly easy to make and ready in just 30 minutes. And you don’t even need a paella pan to cook it. Any large skillet will work! 
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 445kcal
Author: Sara @ Gathering Dreams

Equipment

  • Large Skillet or Paella Pan

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1 red bell pepper - washed and chopped into ribbons
  • 2 carrots - chopped into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes - halved
  • 2 cup spinach - chopped
  • 1 cup green peas - fresh or frozen
  • 1 can/jar (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water - drained and quartered
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika - optional
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads - (note 1)
  • 1 ½ cups Spanish rice - (note 2 and 3)
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth - hot (note 4 and 5)
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley - chopped
  • salt - to taste
  • lemon wedges - to serve

Instructions

  • Heath the vegetable broth.
  • If using saffron threads, soak the saffron in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of broth and let it sit for 10 minutes to steep.
  • Add some olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent.
  • At this point, add bell peppers, carrots, and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes—season with a bit of salt. Then add the frozen peas, olives, spinach, and finally rice. Mix and stir well, cook the rice for a couple of minutes, then add the saffron.
  • Pour 3 1/2 cups of hot broth slowly in the pan, making sure it's evenly distributed. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to medium and let it cook uncovered. Top with the artichokes. Never stir the rice.
  • Let the vegetable paella cook for 15-18 minutes. After 10 minutes, check the rice. If needed, add more broth, 1/3 cup at a time. Increase the heat during the last couple of minutes to create a crispy bottom.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, top with some cherry tomatoes, and cover it with a lid or tin foil and let the paella rest for 5-10 minutes (note 7).
  • Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley and lemon wedges before serving.

Notes

Paella pan: You don't need a paella pan. I used a 12-inch pan for this recipe. Make sure you use the biggest pan you have. The rice needs to be spread as much as possible to ensure it cooks evenly without stirring.
Note 1: Saffron is one of the key components to make traditional paella rice. Pick the best quality saffron you can find. Do not use turmeric. If you are on a tight budget, use saffron powder instead. Or one tablespoon of tomato paste: paella won't have its traditional yellow flavor, but it'll be much more authentic than by using turmeric.
Note 2: You can find Spanish rice (also known as Bomba rice, Valencia rice, or Calasparra rice) on Amazon, World Market, or any international food market or grocery store. Good alternatives are arborio rice or medium-grain rice. Do not use brown rice, long-grain rice, basmati rice, or any other type of rice!
Note 3: Do not wash the rice before cooking. Spanish rice is not like basmati rice. You want to keep all the starch in there.
Note 4: The rice will absorb all its flavor from the broth, so using a high-quality vegetable broth is essential.
Note 5: Each rice will absorb the broth in a slightly different amount. Start by pouring 3 1/2 cups of broth in the pan, and then check if more is needed after 10 minutes. Add 1/3 cup at a time, and make sure it's fully absorbed during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Note 6: One of the best things about paella is what's called socarat. A thin toasted layer of goodness, made from the sticky caramelized rice at the bottom of the pan. 
Note 7: Do not skip the resting time. If you are in a hurry, just wait at least 5 minutes. Resting will allow the paella to finish cooking, absorbed any remaining moist, and round out its flavors.
*Nutrition information is a rough estimate per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1366mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 8962IU | Vitamin C: 75mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 5mg