Vegetable Paella

This is the post where I betray all of my vegetarian friends and say that this recipe was mediocre but would have been really awesome with meat.

It looked so pretty when it was cooking!

Juicy chicken, tender shrimp and/or andouille sausage would have taken this from blah to BOOM.

Oh well, you win some and you lose some.

And maybe, just maybe, this could have been really great as a vegetarian meal if there was some kind of variation in texture.  It just ended up being kind of mushy throughout.

I thought of adding toasted nuts for some crunch, but I didn’t think they would be compatible with the flavors of the dish.

If you’re a tofu fan you could add it, but it would probably have to be be tempeh in order to offer the texture I was hoping for.  Even extra firm tofu would likely seem too soft to make an impact.

Figuring out a non-meat option that would do the trick seems like too much fuss for me, so my plan is to add some meat for round 2.  This recipe makes a BIG batch, so I’ve got a couple containers of it in the deep freeze.  I’ll report back when I pull those out and add meat :)

For now, I’ll share the recipe…maybe it’ll be right up your ally!

Vegetable Paella
From Eats Well With Others

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb tomatoes, chopped (I just guessed at the weight…about 8 roma tomatoes)
6 medium artichoke hearts, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup peas
5 1/2 cups veggie broth
zest of 1 lemon, cut into strips
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
pinch saffron*
1/4 cup parsley, minced
salt to taste
1 lb arborio rice (yes, a full pound!)

1. In a large, wide flat-bottomed pan or paella pan (or pot), heat the oil on medium-high. Add in the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the artichokes, peppers, string beans, peas, and 2 cups of the veggie broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the lemon zest, paprika, turmeric, saffron, parsley, salt, rice and the remainder of the veggie broth. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the rice is done and the liquid has evaporated.

*Ok, let’s talk about Saffron….it’s that seemingly empty jar in this pic.

Saffron is a rare and expensive “spice.”  It’s fairly potent, so a little goes a long way.  And at $14 a jar ($10 on sale – thanks Meijer!) that’s a very good thing.

Here’s what is inside of the jar…golden threads of saffron!

I’ve passed up recipes in the past because I didn’t have the saffron they called for, but when I saw it on sale at Meijer, I decided to splurge this time.
I wish I could tell you exactly what flavor it added to the dish, but this was also my first time using smoked paprika, so I can’t exactly tell which did what!

I’ll find another saffron recipe so I can report back :)

Oh, and I think you could make this without the saffron and still get a good overall flavor so don’t let the “threads of gold” keep you from trying this dish if it sounds good to you.

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