What Is Paella
Paella is a Spanish-influenced comfort food with a delightful and complex aroma. Similar to risotto or jambalaya, the highly adaptable dish is packed with fresh vegetables and rice. Simple preparation and deep, complex flavor and aroma are the yin and yang of this Spanish favorite. Its vibrant yellow color and one-of-a-kind aroma comes from saffron; a delicate, dried spice made from the Crocus flower.
This versatile favorite is widely adapted and interpreted differently, depending on the region. Regardless of the many ways paella is made, the creamy texture and beautiful presentation are a common thread of this dish. This is a recipe for vegetarian paella that you can do right on your stove top using a standard skillet.
- 3 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1 carrot (sliced)
- 1 bell pepper (yellow or green, diced)
- 1 yellow onion (minced)
- 6 oz. spicy Italian vegetarian sausage (chopped (OPTIONAL))
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 cups medium-grain rice (uncooked)
- 1 quart vegetable broth
- 1 (14-oz) can stewed tomatoes
- 1 (14-oz) can quartered artichoke hearts1 (14-oz) can white kidney beans
- 1 tbsp. orange zest
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. saffron
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tbsp. rosemary (or one sprig)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (8-oz) can peas
- 2 tsp. salt (OPTIONAL)
- lemon juice to taste
- Heat the olive oil on the stove top in a large skillet. Sauté the garlic, carrots, bell peppers and onions in a large skillet. If you are including the vegetarian sausage, add it now. Cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft.
- Add the rice, and stir frequently for one minute.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and add diced tomatoes, artichoke hearts, kidney beans, saffron, oregano, rosemary, paprika, bay leaf and orange zest.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until the rice has become tender and absorbs the broth.
- Gently stir or fold the mixture to ensure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- In the final minutes, incorporate the peas and add salt to taste.
- Sprinkle with lemon juice and garnish with lemon wedge or rosemary sprig.
Swaps: Green beans, tender zucchini, eggplant and canned mushrooms are excellent additions to this recipe. You can add them in moderation, or just swap them for the artichoke hearts, bell peppers or carrots. Editor’s Note: Photo courtesy Creative Commons.