Most people think of paella as a dish with seafood and sausage, but one of the traditional Mediterranean Diet recipes of Valencia is paella de verduras or vegetable vegan paella. This paella recipe has over 20 ingredients in it, but don’t let that scare you! I think you will find that most of the ingredients are in your pantry or are easy to come by at any supermarket. And don’t worry if you don’t have saffron (oh dear!), it will still taste amazing with or without it! The saffron I used was only $3.oo and was enough for at least 10 paellas!
There are only a few techniques you may not have tried before that are important in making this dish.
- Toasting the saffron. Super simple! Add the strands of saffron to a small piece of aluminum foil. Fold it so that it becomes a small packet. Place on a hot skillet for about a minute. Remove from the heat and then open the packet. That’s it! Toasted saffron!
- “Burning the bottom” – Once all the ingredients have been added and the mixture is boiling, you will stir everything until they are well mixed. Then turn the heat down to a strong simmer and DON’T STIR AGAIN! The magic of a good paella is the crusty bottom. You don’t want it to be horribly burnt, but a little burnt adds a blackened flavor that makes the dish traditional.
The rest of the recipe is totally straight forward and you will have a delectable dish in an hour. I find that this recipe is enough on its own so you don’t need to have a lot with it. One of the traditional paella ingredients not in this paella are artichokes. Marinated artichokes are one of the sides I would recommend. A salad with Dijon vinaigrette will only add to the flavors of the paella.
Kalamata Olive and Chickpea Paella (Vegan Mediterranean - Paella de Verduras)
- Make in a large cast iron, stainless steel or ceramic skillet. Serve with marinated artichokes.
- 4-6 strands saffron threads
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thin
- 1 container (8 oz.) fresh portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Juice of lemon (zest lemon first)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Zest from 1 lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 bunch parsley, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 cup uncooked short grain rice or paella rice
- Toast saffron threads by placing in aluminum foil. Place aluminum foil on hot skillet for about 1 minute. Remove and open aluminum foil.
- Saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil in skillet for about 5 minutes.
- Add vegetable broth, lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil.
- Add rest of ingredients (including toasted saffron threads). Stir well. Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low boil. Now, do not stir! Cook until rice is desired tenderness and liquid has evaporated (again, no stirring!). This usually takes around 30-35 minutes. You want the bottom of the pan to get crusty, slightly burnt. This brings out the flavor of all of the ingredients. Remove from heat and cover for about 10 minutes.
- Make sure you scrape some of the bottom crust for each serving!
Would riced Cauliflower work in place of rice?
I haven’t tried it with riced cauliflower. My guess is that the cauliflower might get mushy as it continues to cook. If you try it, let me know how it came out. -Bill