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The Ultimate Vegan Paella: Spanish Specialty made Vegan

Loaded with protein, vegetables, and flavors. Main highlight dish for special occasions & family gatherings!

 

Originally from Valencia, Spain “Paella” (Pronounced as Paa-e-ya) is the most famous dish from Spanish Cuisine. This saffron infused rice dish is traditionally cooked and served in a special purpose built Paella pan. Authentic Paella contains seafood or meat, however, my 100% vegan version is equally tasty, nutritious and simply yum! As you will see below I am using chickpeas to substitute for meat protein and have played around with the spices to bring out the amazing flavors! I know it is not one of the quickly made dish, but we all deserve to go a little extra mile on special occasion 😉


The first time I tasted Paella was about 4 years back in an authentic Spanish/Latin restaurant in Mountain view, California. It was so delicious, but I never thought I would try making it at home because it seemed to be too time consuming. I am not generally a fan of rice, but Paella rice was so flavorful I could not hold myself back and reached out to some friends from Valencia to understand how they do it back home. I learnt that ‘Bomba Rice’ has a unique property and forms the base of the rich Paella flavor.

Bomba rice absorbs more liquid than other varieties of rice and has very high starch content. Hence it absorbs more flavors from spices and gives the creamy, starchy texture that makes paella, The best rice dish in the world!!!

I searched for Bomba rice everywhere in grocery stores, but most did not carry and others were out of stock. Thanks to amazon, we found San Thomas excellent quality Bomba Rice. It is pricey, you may it with Arborio rice for this dish. However, if you haven’t tried it at all before, I urge you to make it with Bomba rice and feel the difference.

I used 22” Paella Pan for making a big batch Paella to share with our friends and family. It is big enough for 8 servings, but requires cooking over two regular home cooking range burners due to its size. You can also cook it in the oven, mine was too big to fit in the oven plus, I preferred making it over the stovetop for the first time. The Paella pan comes in difference sizes so pick the right size for your needs. You may use any enamel based steel pan which is more flat and broad on the size. Authentically, Paella is cooked as a thin (~2 inch) layer of rice, veggies and sauce. So keep that in mind when you select the size of the pan that you buy. That’s it for the technicalities, now let’s get in to it…..

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cooking Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients – Don’t be scared looking at the long list – You will thank your efforts later!

⃞ 28 oz. canned fire roasted tomatoes

⃞ 3 cups Bomba rice

⃞ 9 cups Vegetable broth

⃞ 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

⃞ 1 Cup chopped onions (divide into 2 portions)

⃞ 12 cloves garlic – minced (divide into 2 portions)

⃞ 1 cup roughly chopped each : mushrooms and eggplants (remove the skin)

⃞ ½ cup each sliced: Mushrooms & pink reddish

⃞ ½ cup each: cut green beans & frozen peas

⃞ 3 cup finely chopped colored peppers (I used mini sweet peppers & a green bell pepper)

⃞ 1 cup artichokes from jar – sliced

⃞ ½ cup Capers (less if you don’t prefer)

⃞ 1 cup boiled chickpeas

⃞ 1 Cup chopped parsley

⃞ 7 springs of fresh rosemary

⃞ 1 tsp Saffron (the most expensive spice in the world, however the most important for this dish)

⃞ Salt 2tsp – per your taste (you can taste and add more if @ Tasting needed step)

⃞ 1 TBS ground Black pepper

⃞ 2 TBS Red crushed peppers

⃞ 2 tsp ground smoked paprika

⃞ 2 tsp cayenne or chili/cayenne powder

Okay, so let’s break down the process into 4 steps of cooking:

1) Vegetables

2) Broth

3) Sofrita

4) Socarrat

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1) Start with sautéing the vegetables:

≈ On medium high flame heat 2/3 cup of Extra Virgin Olive oil and sauté ½ Onions & 4 cloves of minced garlic

≈ Add colored peppers, reddish, mushrooms, peas, eggplants, green beans. Mix well and sauté it for a minute.

≈ Add spices and seasonings: Salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika per taste or 1 tsp each.

≈ Don’t overcook the vegetables; they should be al dente as we will be cooking it further later with rice.

≈ If cooking in Paella pan, remove sautéed vegetable mixture and keep aside. We are going to make Sofrita (sauce) in the same pan.

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2) The Broth

≈ Mix 1 tsp saffron strands into warm to hot water and Keep aside

≈ Take 9 cups of vegetable broth in a big pot and bring it boil. Turn off the heat or simmer

≈ Mix Saffron water into the broth, stir and keep aside

≈ Make sure the Broth is hot when you pour it over the rice

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3) Sofrita – The Sauce

≈ Heat 1/3 cups of EVOO in the pan and sauté ½ cup of Onions and 4 cloves grated garlic

≈ Add 28 oz. can of fire roasted diced tomato and add 3 chopped Roma tomatoes

≈ Cook for about 8 minutes, keep stirring

≈ Add Salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne per taste and fresh herbs: ½ cup chopped parsley, 3 springs of rosemary

≈ Mash down some of the mixture by spatula to create thick consistency

≈ Sofrita is now ready!

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=ud9G1w4T2YY%3Ffeature%3Doembed

Method:

» Spread 3 cups of UNWASHED Bomba Rice evenly to the Softria mixture

» Mix lightly and spread it out in the pan to create thin layer

» Spread sautéed vegetables on the rice mixture evenly

» Pour hot broth evenly on the top. DO NOT STIR. Tap the pan instead to settle it down

» sprinkle the following: Artichokes heart, boiled Chickpeas, Capers & sliced Olives

» Press down the layers lightly from the center and edges.

» Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings at this point.

» Keep rotating the pan for even cooking. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.

» Taste and check if the rice is perfectly cooked. If needed, add little water and cook for a little longer.

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4) Socarrat: Crispy, savory, reddish looking layer forms on the bottom

≈ Turn the heat to high and keep rotating the pan to achieve SOCARRAT layer in Paella

≈ It tests amazing, but make sure not to burn it

≈ 1-2 minutes should be sufficient (More like putting your baked dish for broiling in the oven, but on the stove, it works only on the bottom layer)

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Your Paella is now ready, Garnish with remaining Parsley. Let it set for about 10 minutes, I know you may want to dig in right away, just like I did with mine! However, if you wait, you can actually get a pie shaped piece of Paella! So, let it set 

Totally optional – Serve it with a wedge of lemon and a piece of French or multigrain baguette.

Notes:

Store leftover Paella in the fridge for 3-4 days

Freeze for up to 2 months in airtight container

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