As I mentioned in my previous Spanish post, I celebrated a Spanish cuisine day this weekend. I started my day with a typical Spanish breakfast, Pan con Tomate. For Lunch, I went down my memory lane of Spanish meals, and I recalled the awesome Paella that Alphonso (the awesome and the most pleasing person who worked at a nice restaurant) served us in Seville. The restaurant is situated at the old town square, right across the famous Giralda towers. Everything was so fabulous, the warm lighting of the tower, the vibrant street and the lively people singing and dancing till late in the night.
I can’t replicate the ambiance and the beauty of the place, but I can always try to replicate the food I tried there and relive the memories. So, for lunch I made vegetarian Paella, and guess what? It turned out awesome! I used the paella spice I bought in Seville, but that can always be made at home (hopefully).
Ingredients for Vegetarian Spanish Paella
- Round rice – 2 cups (Spaniards use a special paella rice like Bomba, but I couldn’t get it in local grocery stores, so I went ahead with Arborio rice.
- Red paprika and yellow paprika – 1/2 cup (roughly chopped)
- Mushrooms – 1/2 cup (roughly chopped)
- Beans – Handful
- Aubergine – 1/2 cup (roughly chopped)
- Onion – 1 medium (finely chopped)
- Garlic – 3 – 4 cloves (minced)
- Tomatoes – 2 medium (peeled and chopped)
- Saffron – a generous pinch (can be skipped)
- Salt to taste
- Pimentón (or paprika) – 1 tsp
- Paella spice – 1 tsp
- Dry white wine – 1 cup (if the broth doesn’t have it already, if it does, then increase the quantity of broth. It the broth is thick, you can replace the amount of wine with water)
- Vegetable stock – 3 cups
- Olive oil – 4 tbsp
- Fresh parsely and lemon wedges for garnish
Method for Vegetarian Spanish Paella
Prepare the broth
In a pan, boil the vegetable stock, salt and half the saffron together. Set aside.
If you are using saffron threads, toast them in a pan for 1-2 minutes (the idea is to let them release some aroma, so don’t over toast it; it might burn) and crush them with fingers to make powder before adding to the broth.
I used store bought broth, but if you want you can use home made broth or add 4-5 cups water to the sauted vegetables and sofrito mix *Refer Note (Procedures explained below).
Saute the vegetables
- Pour the olive in a pan.
- On medium low heat, cook the red and yellow paprikas, mushrooms, and aubergine until they look wilted, but not brown.
- Transfer them to a plate.
Make the sofrito
I couldn’t find a proper English word for this one, but is a typical mix of tomato-onion-garlic. This is used as a base of paella. Infact, this forms the base of most Mediterranean dishes.
- On medium heat sauté the onion until softened, about 5 min.
- Add the tomato, pimenton (red paprika powder), minced garlic, and the paella spice (I had the one I bought in Seville, but I think we can make it at home by combining turmeric, pimenton, dried parsley, and garlic powder, atleast that’s what the ingredient list said. A lot of recipes don’t even call for this spice, but I think it added a zing to my Paella).
- Add a pinch of salt and cook. Stir often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote. Will take around 15 to 20 min. If it starts to stick to the pan or burn, add a little water to the pan. It demands time and patience… low fire and slowly without burning anything.
You can make sofrito several hours in advance if you want.
The final step
- Take a 16-inch pan (Paella needs to be made in a special paella pan. I didn’t have the typical one, but I had something similar, so I used that. Do not make paella in a pan with high walls).
- Add the sofrito and then the sauted vegetables. Turn the stove to medium high heat.
- Add the broth.
- Top with the beans. (I used frozen beans, so I added them at this stage. If using the fresh ones, you can saute them with the other vegetables)
- Add rice.
- Add the remaining saffron on the rice.
- Reduce the heat to medium low after around 10 minutes. Do not cover the pan and avoid stirring if possible.
- Once all the liquid has evaporated, paella is ready.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.
Enjoy your Paella!
- If you are not using store bought stock, fill the pan with water almost to the top after adding the vegetables. We will make the stock right there in the pan. Add some salt. In this case, we will add all the saffron after adding rice, unlike the store broth method described above.
- Let the water boil at medium-high heat until it reaches the inner bolts of the handle inside the pan. It will take around 20 minutes.
- Add the dry white wine.
- Add the rice and top it with all the saffron.
Paella can be made with any vegetables, all you need to ensure is that you follow the instructions while making Paella.