Paella was the first thing I ate in Spain on the day I arrived in Seville. Unfortunately it had rabbit in it which is a common ingredient used over there along with ham and fish. After picking out the rabbit pieces it was pretty good for an appetizer from a bar.
After coming back home I adapted recipes to fit my vegan needs and discovered it is really easy to make. It has a lot of ingredients but it is still not complicated. The most important ingredients are Spanish short grain rice from Calasparra, Spanish smoked paprika, and Spanish saffron threads.
The rice must be the special paella kind and can be found anywhere. The saffron and paprika give the distinct color and flavor that makes paella so awesome. The rest of the ingredients are basically dependent on what you like. Tomatoes, piquillo peppers (or bell peppers), onion, artichoke hearts, and green beans (or peas) are what I primarily use but there are other versions out there. Using fresh artichokes are the best but so time-consuming so using canned artichoke hearts to save time is totally fine.
While prepping the veggies, start heating up the broth, you will want to add it warm and not cold. The paella pan heats up faster than other pans so after heating the oil at medium-high heat, it won’t take long for it to start sizzling. Add the onion and peppers and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. I like to have the rest of the ingredients next to me ready to go.
Add the saffron, garlic, paprika, peppers, and veggies one at a time. I like to stir in each one before adding the next. After this, add in about half the rice, mix it in well, and then add the rest. At this point your paella pan (if it is a small one like mine) will seem like it can’t fit anymore in so do not pour in the warm broth all at once. Pour it in about a cup at a time. Bring it to a boil after adding the first cup of broth and bring it down to a simmer for the rest of the cooking time. This part takes awhile because as the rice slowly soaks up the broth you have to add more. Try not to stir it a lot. You can move it around a bit, sliding the spoon around the edges a little and down the middle but you don’t want to disturb it too much. It is okay if it sticks a little to the pan, it tastes good that way.
After the liquid is absorbed, taste the rice and see if it is soft enough. If it seems a little too crunchy, then stir it a little and keep simmering it until soft. I like to season it with parsley towards the end of the cooking process and then a crucial last step is the lemon. Squirting fresh lemon juice on the paella really brings out the flavor and makes it even better. Enjoy 🙂
This is for about 4 servings and expect about an hour and a half to two hours for prepping and cooking.
1 TBSP olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, seeded cored and chopped
1 cup of piquillo peppers OR jarred roasted bell peppers OR fresh bell peppers, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium or large white onion, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans OR peas
about 8 quartered artichoke hearts from a can or 1-2 fresh artichoke, quartered
1 to 1 1/2 TSP Spanish smoked paprika
a few pinches of Spanish saffron threads
1 1/2 cups of rice
3 cups of vegetable broth