Vegetable Paella

Paella for those of you that do not know is a centuries old recipe that originated in Spain which typically includes many meats (often seafood), rice, vegetables and seasonings cooked in a large cast iron skillet over an open flame. It’s a one pot meal, similar to Jumbalaya and arroz con pollo. Paella is a traditional Cuban favorite served on special occasions and family get-togethers. In fact Cubans even have a fancy version of the dish called arroz imperial, where you make the rice and then top it off with melted parmesan cheese. Cubans are nothing if not decadent.

In Miami, where I grew up, many restaurants make enormous trays of paella filled with shrimp, lobster and sausage that you can purchase by the pound. Though I know there were some occasions when my grandparents made paella from scratch, more often than not they’d buy a tray from a local restaurant, and we would all feast; so though I don’t have many memories of them making this dish, I have many recollections of eating this dish together as a family. Birthday parties, weddings, quinceañera’s, you name it…we ate paella.

_MG_7927My version maintains the integrity of the traditional recipe and simply omits the meat. I use many of the vegetables that would be included in a traditional paella and then some. Feel free to experiment with adding or omitting any vegetables you like to this recipe. The flavors and textures that you’d expect to taste in a traditional paella are all there. The rice is sweet (thanks to the corn) and savory (thanks to all the spices) and could be eaten as a meal unto itself. I personally like to eat it as a side dish with some suatéed Gardein chik’n strips (omit the Teriyaki sauce that comes with the package and cook the strips in olive oil, a drizzle of sour orange juice, a dash of oregano, garlic powder and smoked paprika to perfectly enhance the flavors of the paella.) You can even add sweet plaintains or tostones on the side to eat like a real Cuban. Buen provecho!

Makes 6-8 servings

1/4 tsp saffron
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
3 TB hot water
2 TB Olive oil
2 carrots sliced into medallions
1/3 medium sweet onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced or cut in long strips
1 orange bell pepper diced  or cut in long strips
2 garlic cloves
2 stalks of broccoli chopped
1 15 oz can of corn
1 C white rice
3/4 C Vegetable stock
3/4 C water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper

Place saffron and ground turmeric in 3 TB of hot water and allow to steep by setting aside. Heat olive oil  in a large skillet and cook carrots for 3-5 minutes on medium. Stir vegetables continuously with a wooden spatula. Add onions and bell pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent; add the garlic and cook for a final 2-3 minutes. Add rice and stir enough to coat the rice in the olive oil. Add saffron/turmeric infused water and stir again.  Add vegetable stock, additional 3/4 C water, salt and remainder of spices. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes then drain can of corn and add it on top of the rice and cover. Cook for an additional 7 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, gently so as to not  break the grain. Then add chopped broccoli on top. Cover and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. This allows the rice to fully plump and release their moisture. Fluff again with a fork and serve.


Nutrition facts per serving (8 servings)
Calories: 162
Fat: 4.1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Potassium: 332 mg
Carbs: 31 g
Fiber: 2.1 g
Sugars: 5.1 g
Protein: 3.5 g
Vitamin A: 40%
Vitamin C: 95%
Calcium: 3.5%
Iron: 7.9%

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