Vegetarian Paella made in less than one hour with simple ingredients. This recipe brings all the flavor and comfort of the classic Spanish rice dish to your own kitchen. (Bonus: no special pan needed to prepare this vegetable paella!)This recipe post is sponsored by The USA Rice Federation. I was compensated for my time, however all opinions are my own.
Why You'll Love this Vegetarian Paella
Paella is a dish I love to order while dining out with friends and family. Its humble origins and one-pot appeal have a way of bringing people together, regardless of how intimate the setting is. So with its crowd-pleasing appeal and unique simplicity, it begs the question: Why not just cook it at home?
This vegetable paella is chockfull of authentic flavor, yet endlessly riffable. All of the ingredients should be easy to source at your local grocery store, so don't fret over the ingredient list. (You may even have a fair amount of them already in your refrigerator or pantry.)
And although it comes together in under one hour, the rich layers of flavor will make you believe it's far more involved.
So break out the red wine and let's bring the flavors of the Mediterranean into our home kitchen!
The beauty of paella is that it's a blank canvas for you to add any combination of vegetables you like. While many classic paella recipes include a mix of prawns, clams, and chorizo, this veggie version packs enough smoky depth and texture to satisfy any omnivore.
I do, however, suggest trying to make the most of what's in season. By choosing local, seasonal veggies, you'll get the best flavor plus peak nutrition, which is a double-win. Therefore, the below recommendations are simply an outline for you to interchange as you see fit.
- Aromatics. A key attribute of paella, aromatics are what build the foundation of flavor, lending aroma and dimension. I suggest using yellow onion and garlic, at minimum. Other optional add-ins include chopped carrots and celery.
- Fresh veggies. I love a mix of mushrooms, green beans, and bell peppers for vegetarian paella. If making during summer months, feel free to add chopped zucchini or yellow squash, too.
- Frozen veggies. Green peas are a staple in paella, however they're only in season during spring months. For this reason, I lean on frozen green peas to add a pop of vegetal sweetness.
- Canned tomatoes. I prefer fire-roasted tomatoes, which add a smoky backbone to the dish. You can also use plain diced tomatoes, or diced tomatoes with basil.
- Spices. The quintessential spice is paella is saffron, which grows primarily in Iran, Greece, Morocco, and India. Although pricey, a little saffron goes a LONG away because of how intrinsically fragrant it is. You can find saffron at most specialty grocery stores like Whole Foods, which is where I typically purchase it. However, if you'd rather not purchase one extra spice, feel free to use ground turmeric instead.
- Fresh herbs. Classic herbs include flat-leaf parsley and scallions, which are fantastic compliments to the spices.
How to Make Vegetarian Paella
The process of making paella is pretty seamless, yet the rewards are huge. To get ahead, you can slice and dice the veggies in advance, and thaw the green peas. From there, this whole dish comes together in under one hour, making it a total weeknight win.
- Start by heating a good glug of olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet or paella pan over medium-high. Cook your aromatics, bell pepper, and mushrooms until soft. Next, add the garlic and spices and cook until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine and simmer until mostly reduced. (I typically use Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.)
- Stir in the rice and cook until slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, and green peas, and bring the mixture to a low boil.
- Next, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the paella for about 25 minutes, until the rice is tender.
- Lastly, prepare the parsley oil by mixing the parsley, lemon zest and juice, and olive oil. Once the vegetable paella is cooked, scatter the parsley oil overtop and serve!
What is the Best Rice for Paella?
Traditionally, paella may be made with Bomba rice, which is a short-grain, starchy white rice primarily cultivated in eastern Spain. Personally, however, I choose a U.S.-grown short-grain white rice due to its high quality and ability to find.
What is Short Grain Rice?
U.S. short grain rice is softer and stickier than other varieties once cooked. It also has a slight springiness to the bite, making it a great choice for dishes like paella and risotto where rice is the key component. Some varieties include Arborio, Calmochi, and Koshihikari.
All U.S.-grown rice is gluten-free and the least allergenic of all grains. It's also rich in nutrients, contributing more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including folate and other B-vitamins, as well as iron. And because of rice's slow-digesting complex carbohydrates, it will help keep you satiated and well fueled.
Is Vegetable Paella Healthy?
This dish is brimming with antioxidants, plant-based protein, and dietary fiber. In fact, one serving delivers almost 25% of your daily fiber goal. And while it's plenty satiating from the rice, chickpeas, and veggies, if you're craving an extra dose of protein, feel free to add meat or fish. For example, grilled shrimp, clams, or sautéed chorizo.
Give this homemade paella recipe a try this week for a guaranteed family favorite. And be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Also, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!
More Vegetarian Rice Recipes
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. saffron threads
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ cups dry U.S.-grown short-grain white rice
- 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-oz.) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
- ½ cup frozen green peas, thawed
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup sliced green olives, optional (I use Castelvetrano olives)
- Heat ¼ cup oil in a large high-sided skillet with a fitted lid over medium-high. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms; cook 7 to 8 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, paprika, saffron, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add wine and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until mostly reduced. Stir in rice; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until rice begins to turn translucent. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, broth, and green peas. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine parsley, lemon zest and juice, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl. Once rice is cooked, remove lid and cook 5 more minutes. Scatter parsley oil overtop, and garnish with olives, if desired.