I’ve had my eye on Caroline’s Vegetable Paella recipe from TasteLoveandNourish.com for a long time, and I finally decided to give it a go. She has wonderful plant-based recipes with tons of flavor. Here is a link to her completely vegan original recipe. Caroline adds artichoke hearts to her, but I think it was fine without them.
Fortunately, I had almost all the ingredients in my pantry, and was able to make a few substitutions that worked well. I don’t know about you, but during this time of social distancing and staying home, I’m learning to be much more creative! I roughly halved her recipe since I’m only cooking for three right now.
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 Tbsp hot water
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil or bacon drippings (to add smokiness)
1 large onion, diced
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used half regular button and half baby bellas)
2 big cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 very small zucchini, halved and sliced
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups short-grain rice (I used Arborio)
1 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes), drained
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 Tbsp capers, drained
1/4 cup big green Italian olives with pimentos,halved
handful fresh parsley
drizzle extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, pour hot water over the saffron. Set aside for at least fifteen minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Move a rack to the bottom third of your oven.
Keep the onion, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, spices (see below), rice, white wine, broth and saffron/water in bowls near the stove – you’ll be adding them separately and cooking them fairly quickly.
Heat the olive oil in a large oven safe skillet over medium high heat.
Add the onion and cook for just two minutes.
Add mushrooms and cook without stirring for about two minutes. Stir and cook for two more minutes or until just beginning to brown.
Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the zucchini slices and continue cooking for three minutes.
In a small bowl, mix the spices: paprika, smoked hot paprika, cayenne, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. Add to skillet, stir and cook for a minute or two.
Add the rice and stir to coat.
Add the white wine. Simmer until reduced by about half.
Add the vegetable broth and the saffron with the water. Stir gently and bring the pan to a simmer. Cook for a couple of minutes.
Scatter tomatoes over the top.
Transfer the pan to the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
Scatter the peas, capers and the olives over the top.
Continue baking the paella for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender.
Remove the bay leaves.
Garnish with fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.