Vegetarian Paella is such an attractive dish with the saffron kissed rice, fresh herbs, lemon slices and green olives.
This vegetarian version is even more colourful with peppers, green beans and peas. The two key ingredients are Valencia or paella rice for the texture and smoked paprika for the complex flavour.
The saffron also adds a gorgeous dimension. Saffron can be very expensive to buy in the supermarket, but is much more affordable when purchased in a world foods shop or abroad. Unless you or a loved one is planning a holiday to a Mediterranean country and can bring some back, stock up on your saffron and other spices in a shop that specialises in world foods. Saffron should never be added straight to a dish; to draw out the flavour and ensure that it is distributed throughout the dish, steep in hot stock or water first.
In Spain, a good paella is judged by the ‘socarrat’, the crust on the bottom of the pan, so don’t worry if it sticks a bit, it’s going to be a winner.
Serves 6, leftovers keep well
¼ tsp saffron
600ml hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small yellow and 1 small red pepper, seeded and sliced into rings, reserve 3 rings each
150g mushrooms, quartered
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, left whole
100g thin French green beans, trimmed and sliced in half
250g Valencia or paella rice
1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
150ml dry white wine
125g peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon juice, to taste
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
15-20 green olives, pitted
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed, sliced
3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Mix the saffron with the hot stock.
Heat the olive oil in a large shallow frying pan or paella pan. Fry the onions gently until soft and golden.
Add the garlic, peppers and mushrooms and sauté for 4-5 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the rice and paprika and stir well. Pour in the white wine and bring to the boil.
Make sure the stock and saffron mixture is still very warm and pour into the pan. Reduce the heat a little and simmer for five minutes.
Place the reserved pepper rings on top. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Add the peas in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Season with lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with olives, artichoke hearts, parsley and lemon wedges.
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