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This recipe is our take on one of Spain's most famous dishes, the Paella. Paella is often served with some type of meat or seafood, so to keep it plant-based we've added peas as the protein source.
Traditionally, Paella is also cooked in a wide, shallow pan over a fire. Once the liquid is added to the rice, it's usually left alone to cook, without stirring. Because of this, it helps if the pan has a large cooking surface on the bottom, so it cooks evenly all the way to the top. Try to avoid wok-shaped pans, because the rice on the outer most part of the pan will take longer to cook as it isn't directly over the heat source.
Finally, a little note on saffron. It's a flavourful spice that adds a beautiful colour to the dish, and it's traditionally used when making Paellas. Although saffron is an expensive spice, a little pinch is all you need, so if you've got it on hand, feel free to add it in.
Vegan Paella: Spanish-inspired Rice
▸ ▹ Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 40 min
Total Time: 60 min
1 Tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 g) salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp (2 g) sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp (3 g) dried thyme
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, reserving 5 slices for garnish
1½ cups (300 g) Spanish Paella rice*
4 cups (1 L) boiling water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 pinch saffron threads (optional, but recommended for taste and colour)
1½ cup (300 g) marinated artichoke hearts from a jar, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup (150 g) frozen green peas, thawed
2 Tbsp (30 g) fresh chives or parsley, chopped
1 lemon, in wedges
Add the olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat, and when hot, add the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook this for 2 - 3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Tip: try to use a pan that has a large cooking surface on the bottom of the pan. Try to avoid a wok-shaped pan, as the rice won't cook as evenly throughout.
To the pan, add the paprika, thyme, cumin, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Cook this while stirring for 30 - 60 seconds, to toast the spices.
Add in the tomatoes and bell pepper, sautéing for 2 - 3 minutes.
Add the Paella rice, toasting this for 1 - 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To a large jug, mix the boiling water and vegetable cubes so that the cubes dissolve in the hot water. You could also substitute the bouillon cubes and water for 1L of vegetable stock instead.
Add the liquid to the pan, but do not stir.
Bring the paella to a rapid simmer and let simmer for 2 minutes, then turn the heat to a low simmer and let cook uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.
When the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, use a spoon to give the rice a taste-test. Try to test the rice on the outer-most part of the pan, as this is the rice that will cook last given it's furthest away from the heat source in the centre. If the rice is firm but tender, it's ready. If the centre is still a bit raw, add a small splash of boiling water or hot stock, and let it continue to cook until the rice is cooked through.
When the rice is cooked, add half of the artichoke hearts and peas to the rice, and gently stir it in. Add the other half on top, together with the 5 pieces of reserved bell pepper.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover the pan with a lid and let the Paella rest for 10 minutes. Do not skip this step, as it makes all the difference in taste and texture of the rice!
Remove the lid, top with chopped chives or parsley, serve alongside lemon wedges, and enjoy!
*If the traditional Paella rice is not available to you, use another short-grain rice of choice.
Storage: the paella can be stored an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
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