This hearty meat-free paella is light on the oil and heavy on the vegetables. An assortment of mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and peas offer texture and flavor to the famous Spanish one pot meal.
Whole Foods sells cooked and vacuum-sealed artichokes in the refrigerated part of the produce section. I love to use these because they are fresh and delicious but I don’t have to fuss with the work of peeling and cooking raw artichokes. You can use fresh artichokes if you don’t mind preparing them or use jarred or frozen artichokes, depending on what you find at your store.
Saffron is a rare and expensive spice that adds color and flavor to traditional paella recipes, but if you have a hard time finding or affording it you can certainly leave it out or look for safflower threads, a more budget friendly option that will perform a similar job.
Smoked paprika echos the smokiness of a dish cooked over an open flame, and adds a ton of flavor to your vegetable dishes. If your grocery store has a bulk section you can portion a small amount there.
Short grain aborio rice, the same rice used to make risotto, is used instead of long grain to make this recipe. The end result is a creamy saffron scented base, infused with onions, tomatoes, and garlic, then topped with sauteed peppers, mushrooms, artichokes and peas. A feast for the eyes and mouth.
Traditionally risotto is served family style, and table members scoop hot piles directly into their bowls. If you have a paella pan you can use it here, but a large skillet with a lid will be the best for this recipe.
4 cups warm vegetable broth
1 teaspoon saffron threads
4 teaspoons, plus one tablespoon grapeseed oil, divided
2 colorful bell peppers, seeded and cut into long strips
3-4 cups button mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
1 cup yellow onion, diced small
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup aborio rice
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup cooked artichoke hearts
parsley for garnish
Place 4 cups of vegetable broth in a small pot over medium heat. Add saffron threads to broth and simmer over low heat until ready to use.
Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Stem and quarter the mushrooms and toss with two teaspoons of oil. Add mushrooms to hot pan and saute for a few minutes, until mushrooms begin to brown. Remove to a large bowl. Add two teaspoons of oil to same skillet and add peppers, sauteeing 5-7 minutes, until beginning to brown and soften. Place in the bowl with mushrooms and set aside.
Lower heat to medium and add a tablespoon of oil to the same skillet. Add onion and tomato and saute until softened and reduced, about 8 minutes. Add smoked paprika and garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat grains with vegetable spice mixture. Add 3 cups of vegetable stock, and stir until liquid begins to bubble. Turn to low heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
Remove lid, stir, and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Add additional 1/2 to 1 cup of stock, stir in bell peppers and mushrooms, and cook 5-10 more minutes until al dente, soft but not mushy. Add frozen peas and grilled artichokes to the top of the rice. Do not stir. Cover and cook an additional 5 minutes until rice is cooked and vegetables are heated through. Serve immediately, sprinkled with fresh parsley.