What is paella?
This rice dish originates from Valencia, Spain and the name refers to the ‘paellera’ – the large, shallow frying pan – in which it is traditionally cooked. In Spain, it’s often cooked outdoors and eaten straight from the pan. Although it usually includes various combinations of seafood and chicken, you can also have vegetable paellas. Smoked paprika is an important ingredient in a vegan or vegetarian paella as it replaces the typical smoky flavour of chorizo in the classic version.
What kind of vegetables go in paella?
Traditionally, vegetables such as green beans, peas, peppers and artichoke hearts are added to the base which comprises rice cooked in olive oil, stock and saffron. Onions and tomatoes are also commonly used as well as garlic for added flavour. In our take on the classic version, we’ve used onions and peppers but also added broad beans and courgettes to give it an extra-summery dimension.
What type of rice should I use in paella?
In a traditional paella you would use bomba rice. Sometimes recipes substitute arborio rice or other risotto rice, however in our vegan twist on the classic recipe we’re using brown basmati rice. This adds a slightly earthy, nutty flavour as well as making it a healthier choice, being richer in fibre.
What gives paella its golden colour?
Saffron is the key ingredient for adding that bright golden colour. Saffron is an expensive and much-prized spice made from the dried stigmas of the crocus flower and it adds a slightly floral and earthy flavour to the dish. Mixing saffron with hot water before combining it with the other ingredients brings out the vibrant colour. A small amount of ground turmeric can be used as an inexpensive alternative.
Do I need to use rapeseed oil?
UK-grown rapeseed oil has been heralded as the British answer to olive oil, but its flavour is more earthy and nutty than it is fruity. If you prefer, you can use olive oil instead – it’s what the Spanish traditionally use.
Do I need a paella pan?
While purists insist on using a traditional flat-based paella pan, you can still make a delicious paella in a regular pan. Either use a large frying pan, or a wide, shallow-sided saucepan or casserole, with a flat bottom. It’s best to avoid non-stick pans if you can as these won’t give you the desirable crust on the bottom. But if that’s all you have, you’ll still have a winning dish. A regular, high-sided saucepan won’t work very well as you’re after a thin layer of rice and vegetables to create the best texture.
Should I stir the paella?
It doesn’t need constant stirring – in fact, you should keep stirring to a minimum. The idea in a traditional paella is to create a crunchy, golden-brown layer of rice at the bottom of the pan known as ‘socarrat’ – it’s a much-valued part of paella in Spain although it can be a bit tricky to get right. When adding the broad beans and courgettes, stir them in gently and try not to disturb the bottom layer.
Can you freeze vegan paella?
This recipe does not freeze well. It will keep covered and chilled in the fridge for up to three days. To reheat, microwave until piping hot throughout.
Thinking of buying a paella pan?
Have a look at our guide to the best paella pans.
More vegan paella recipes:
Our vegan recipe for artichoke & aubergine rice is very similar to paella and uses turmeric in place of saffron to give the distinctive yellow colour.
Originally inspired by Spanish paella, our vegan jambalaya makes a delicious plant-based dinner.
Non-vegan versions of paella:
For an easy, fool-proof version, try our easiest ever paella using chorizo and frozen seafood for an authentic flavour.
Our chicken chorizo paella combines chicken breast, chorizo and frozen peas to make a great family-friendly dinner.
For an authentic taste of Spain, our next level paella uses an abundance of seafood. Serve it straight from the pan to impress your guests.
Check out more of our paella recipes.
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