Made in one pan, this Vegetable Paella is a tasty spin on the traditional Spanish dish. It’s loaded with smokey flavor and lots of veggies. Perfect for weekends and entertaining!
When my husband and I were first married, paella was a dish we’d make together on special occasions. We’d open a bottle of wine and spend a couple of hours prepping and cooking before devouring it.
Fast forward many years later, and that paella recipe has certainly changed. It went from a very traditional Spanish dish to this incredibly tasty veggie version.
What we love most, is that, even though we’re only using vegetables in this paella, the dish is so incredibly flavorful. Smokey paprika, saffron and some spice from cayenne and a mix of textures from artichoke hearts, green peas, zucchini and shitake mushrooms make this dish completely satisfying.
Tools for making Paella
First, you’ll need a low, wide paella pan like the one below. Traditional paella pans are made of carbon steel, which conducts heat really well. Just be mindful to dry the pan well and lightly rub it with a bit of oil after washing to avoid rusting. I’ve had mine for over ten years and, as you can see, it’s seen many variations of paella.
What gives paella its beautiful color and lends a bright flavor is saffron. Just a little bit goes a long way. I love developing that color with some hot water before adding it to the rice.
The key to paella’s smokey flavor is smoked paprika. You can find it in both sweet and hot versions. I’m very partial to the hot one. It’s so delicious and and you can always tame the heat by pairing it with sweet paprika.
Lastly, the body of this dish, is the Calasparra rice. It’s a short grain rice, that expands in width instead of length. Calasparra has a high starch content, absorbing all of the paella’s delicious flavors.
This recipe is ideal for entertaining. You can certainly prep everything before your guests arrive as this finishes off in the oven for the last twenty minutes or so. If you’d like to buy yourself a bit more time, just cover your pan with some foil in a warm oven.
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 1/3 cup virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 ounces shitake mushrooms destemmed, cleaned and torn
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 small zucchini sliced
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 cups short-grain Calasparra rice or other short-grain rice
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
- 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, halved
- 14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/4 cup capers drained
- 1/4 cup castelvetrano olives pitted and 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.
- Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan or large oven safe skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for just two minutes. Add the shitake 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 just one minute. Add the zucchini slices and continue cooking for three minutes.
- Add the spices: paprika, smoked hot paprika, cayenne, thyme and bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir and cook to waken up the spice's flavors.
- Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the white wine. Simmer until reduced to 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.
- Arrange the artichoke halves around the perimeter of the pan. Then scatter the can of fire-roasted tomatoes over the top.
- Transfer the pan to the bottom third of the oven. This will prevent the top from overcooking and will give you a desirable bottom crust. 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.
If you love this Vegetable Paella recipe, I know you’ll love…
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