After college, I went on a trip to Europe with two good friends. The first day we were in Spain, we ate at this adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Madrid and one of my friends ordered paella. She took one bite and hated it; too “fishy”. Although I’ve been vegetarian for several years, I still eat seafood on occasion – especially if it’s good seafood. So we traded and I ate her paella dish. DE-LICIOUS! I bought a paella magnet as we were leaving Spain (much like the one below), and it stares at me from the fridge.
I finally worked out a vegetarian paella recipe (my husband doesn’t “cheat” with seafood). It’s simple and delicious; it takes a bit of time to make (I’d budget 1 hr total), and feeds 4 with no seconds.
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 package of “Gimme Lean Sausage Style” (comes in a tube-like roll); here is a photo
- 1 yellow onion; diced
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 2 carrots; approx 12 baby carrots (chopped into 1/8″ thick rounds)
- 2 tomatoes; chopped (or you can use a can of chopped tomatoes)
- 2 cups brown rice (I used the Mahatma brand)
- 32 oz Vegetable Stock (I used the Swanson brand; 32 oz is one entire container)
- 10 threads of saffron
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon; cut into wedges
- In a large, deep pan (or paella pan), add olive oil over medium heat. Cut Gimme Lean sausage package in half and use your fingers (or a spoon) to scoop out quarter-sized pieces of “meat” from the package. Saute them in the oil until they are just starting to brown.
- Add diced onion and garlic to the pan and continue to saute until onion and “meat” are golden brown.
- Add the chopped carrots and tomatoes, then add 3 cups of vegetable stock, the 2 cups of rice, and the saffron. Stir, cover, turn heat to low and simmer until rice is only slightly crunchy (approx 20-30 min); stir occasionally. Add more broth as needed.
- Once the rice is almost cooked (just slightly crunchy), add the peas, the rest of the broth (if there’s any left), and 1 cup of water. Stir, cover, and let simmer until the rice is completely cooked (approx 10 min).
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
NOTE: Thyme and bay leaves would go nicely with this dish; feel free to add these while the rice is cooking if you have them around. Also feel free to add additional veggies – lima beans, green beans, bell peppers, etc would work well.
Let me know how your dish turns out!