Vegetable Paella Perfection

IMG_1282 (1024x813)Planning future travel to Spain in the Fall and already I am researching the local foods and flavours.  Paella, a traditional Spanish dish, is known to have seafood, sausage and chicken incorporated with the rice. This recipe, modified from the vegetarian variation in Plenty, a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, is full of vegetables, edamame beans, and exotic spices.  Your kitchen will have aromas wafting through the air and you will have to be patient for dinner.  The notes in Plenty says it serves 2, generously; but I was able to get five average size servings from it.

The colours and flavours of sweet peppers, smoked paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper, bay leaves and saffron augment the additional aromatics of Spanish onion, garlic and fennel bulb.

IMG_1274 (1024x884)The original recipe called for short-grain Spanish paella rice which is available in specialty food stores but short-grain Italian Arborio rice works well too.IMG_1275 (1024x938) The onion is fried up and then the bell peppers and fennel are added.  Finally, the garlic is tossed into the mix.  The bay leaves and most spices are next, followed by the rice, orange juice and saffron.  Once it is all mixed through and reduced slightly, the vegetable broth is mixed in.

The broth, made golden by the turmeric and paprika, is further enhanced by the saffron threads and orange juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, put the lid on, and do not stir (or lift lid) for 20 minutes.

IMG_1278 (1024x806)Quartered tomatoes, artichoke hearts and edamame beans are scattered on top of the paella and re-covered and left to rest for 10-15 more minutes. IMG_1279 (1024x584)For the crowning glory, scatter chopped parsley and halved Kalamata olives on top.   IMG_1280 (1024x848)  Serve with a spritz of fresh lemon juice and thoroughly enjoy.IMG_1283 (1024x768)

Vegetable Paella


2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 sweet yellow pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/2  fennel bulb, cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup Arborio rice (short-grain Italian rice, or use Spanish short-grain paella rice if you can find it)
6 1/2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp saffron strands
2 cups boiling vegetable stock
salt, if needed
3/4 cup frozen edamame beans
6 small tomatoes, quartered (I used cocktail-sized tomatoes)
6 canned artichokes in water, quartered
15 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
lemon wedges, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then gently fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the peppers and fennel, and fry over medium heat until soft and golden – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the bay leaves and spices (except saffron), stir thoroughly, add the rice and stir for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the orange juice and saffron threads, boil down for a minute, then add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat as low as it will go, cover and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Do not stir and do not lift lid.
  3. In the meantime, pour boiling water over the edamame beans to thaw and warm through.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and add salt if needed, but avoid stirring the rice and vegetables much.
  5. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and beans over the rice, cover the pan with its lid and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Take off the lid, scatter the olives on top, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

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7 comments

  1. France's harris · · Reply

    Looks and sounds amazing

  2. I’ll have to try this. I love new vegetarian dishes. Thanks.

    1. This has proven to be a crowd pleaser!

  3. Looking at your blog again for new ideas! Do you think this can be made with quinoa?

    1. Glad you are looking!! Yes, I think you can make the paella with quinoa — the grain would be a great combination. Give it a go and tell me how it turns out!

  4. Looks really good, will try it soon!

    1. A wonderful vegetarian dish with all the complete fixings…It is a regular for guests!

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