Thursday, 6 February 2014

Spanish Paella for Vegetarians

It probably seems odd to some vegetarians that a dish of Paella looks so mouthwatering. It is the flavours, spices and the rich golden colour that draws me to it, but alas it is the seafood and meat that stops me eating it.

A few years ago when I was in Barcelona, I would stand outside restaurants, nose pressed against the windows watching waiters delivering huge platters of Paella to their waiting patrons. I would search every menu to find one I could eat, but it didn't happen and I was left with a real feeling of disappointment.

Not surprising then to see my version of a vegetarian Paella here. This dish will give you the same experience flavour wise, but without the fish and meat. The original recipe that got me started was from a magazine, (unfortunately I can't reference it because I have no idea where it came from). It did included sausages and chicken but somehow the spices together sounded as though they would meld together well, so I adapted it to make it vegetarian. I love this recipe, it is so easy to make, yet it provides the full flavour of a Paella that I want.

Thank you, whoever you are, that inspired me to make this! Also, to all the Spanish people who may be offended because this is not a true Paella and think I am making a mockery out of their national dish, 'Apenado! (Gosh, I hope that's the right word).

Vegetarian Paella


1 tbls olive oil
1  small onion finely chopped
1 cup basmati rice - don't use any other rice
1 tsp ground turmeric
425g tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 large red capsicum, chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 small red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
1 tin chick peas, drained
1  kumara (sweet potato) peeled and grated
100g chopped mushrooms
pinch saffron threads
100g french green beans, topped and blanched for 5 minutes
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
chopped coriander
1 lemon cut into wedges for serving

  • Add olive oil to a large frypan with lid, saute onion, and garlic until soft. Add turmeric and rice and cook stirring for 2 minutes. 
  • Add saffron threads to the stock and stir. 
  • Add tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, mushrooms, paprika and kumara and all of the stock. 
  • Bring  to the boil and then turn the heat down low, cover and cook stirring occasionally for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. 
  • Add chick peas, smoked paprika (you can add some of the liquid from the chick peas if you need more stock) and green beans, adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Heat through, stirring for 3 more minutes and it is ready to serve with  chopped coriander and wedges of lemon!

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