This traditional saffron infused rice dish, is from Spain and is typically made with vegetables, seafood, chicken and saffron, which gives it its distinct color and taste.￼￼￼ The name paella means frying pan in Valencian Language, which is the language of Valencia Spain.￼￼ Funny enough, in Spanish paella as two separate words. Pa ella, means For her. So growing up whenever my mom would make paella she would joke around with my brothers and tell them they couldn’t have any because it was for me.￼
This is another one of those very versatile recipes, that you can mix and match different added ingredients. You can do asparagus, broccoli, artichokes, spinach, kale, plant based sausage and meats, and everything in between. Especially when making this a plant-based meal.
As long as you have the main spices for this recipe you can really play around with it and add ingredients that you like.
Why You’ll Love This Vegan Paella
1. It’s Bold This dish is so packed with flavor, just the the real thing and the saffron just takes it over the top!
2. Full Meal It feels like you are eating a full meal when you have this dish. There are so many yummy add-ins that it really does satisfy like s full meal.
3. Ease This recipe comes off a bit intimidating. I don’t know if it’s just the name or the fact that it has a Spanish name which makes it feel exotic, but it does come off that way. But let me tell you it’s actually pretty easy to make. It’s basically a one pot meal.
What is saffron?￼￼￼
Saffron is the most expensive space in the world. That being said for this dish we only need just a few strands, totally affordable, don’t get scared.￼ Saffron is a spice that is harvest from the crocuses flower.￼ It’s said to be more expensive than gold gram for gram, because of how hard it is to harvest. One crocuses flower produces three stigmas. Which are what we know as the saffron strands. They are harvested by hand with tweezers in the fall and Iran is the largest producer. It’s crazy that for 1 pound of saffron stigmas, you need 75,000 blossoms. I guess with that much labor it makes total sense, why they’re so expensive.
Saffron gives dishes a distinct sweet and floral taste, but also adds some orangy, yellow color.￼￼
Can I make paella without saffron?￼￼￼￼
I always try to encourage alternatives to special ingredients whenever I can. That being said paella without saffron isn’t paella. However, if you really wanna make this dish and for whatever reason, can’t get your hands on saffron you can use Sazon seasoning, in it’s please￼. Although it will not taste like traditional paella.￼
- 2 cups short or medium grain rice
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 yellow onion chopped
- 4 garlic gloves minced or grated
- 1 pimiento jarred (red peppers that come in a glass jar)
- 1/4 yellow bell pepper of a large papper
- 1/2 cup tomatoes chopped (I used cherry but any will do)
- 1 small jar of artichoke hearts
- 8-10 asparagus
- 1/4-1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- pinch of saffron Tips for substitues below
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp parsley
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil or olive oil
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- Extra pepper for garnish optional
- 3 king oyster mushrooms
- 2 cup warm water
- 2 nori sheets broken up
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sushi vinegar
- 2 tbsp oil
- Start by prepping the vegan scallops. Cut the king oyster mushroom stems into 1/2 wheels, until you have at least 12. Save the mushroom tops for another recipe.
- Add warm water, nori sheets, vinegar, and soy sauce into a jar or bowl and stir to extract the nori flavor into the water. Add in the mushroom scallops and make sure they stay below the water. If the scallops float over the water, use something to keep them down. Soak the scallops in this brine for 20-25 minutes. You can cook the scallops while the rice cooks.
- Drain the scallops. In a large skillet or regular non stick pan on medium heat, add in 2 tbsp of oil and place the scallops in. Cook scallops for 10 minutes on each side, or until the edges become golden brown.
- While the scallops cook you can place the artichoke hearts face down beside the scallops to lightly brown. This should that about 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from pan once done and set aside.
- Using a paella pan or an extra large pan, preferably not a non stick but you can use non stick like I do.
- A oil to pan on medium high heat, add in onion, and peppers. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and saute until slightly translucent.
- Toss in the garlic and stir in, cook for 1-2 minutes or until it becomes fragrant.
- Add in rice, vegetable stock, tomato paste, bay leaf and spices at this point. Stir, bring to a boil by raising the heat. Once the mixture has reached a boil, lower heat to low for a simmer.
- Cover pan (I used a pizza pan to cover because I had no lid large enough and you can do the same) and cook for 15 minutes.
- Uncover and check for readiness. The rice should be cooked almost completely at this point.
- Add on the remainder of the ingredients, artichoke hearts, uncooked asparagus, slice pepper for garnish, lemon wedges vegan scallops, and frozen peas, over top in a presentable fashion.
- Place lid back over top and cook for another 3 minutes or until rice is cooked tender.
- Drizzle with some lemon juice, serve and ENJOY!