Paella de verduras. That’s “paella of vegetables”, which translates to an absolutely delicious vegetarian rice dish packed with flavour and hearty goodness.
Paella as we know it originated Valencia, Spain. It’s perhaps one of the most recognisable and famous Spanish dishes, famed for it’s use of golden saffron, ground peppers, and tasty rice – the most important ingredient. The original method of preparing paella traditionally utilises meats or popularly seafood – we are going to put a spin on the classic; preparing it with scrumptious green vegetables and adding samphire across the top which will give it a distinctive taste of the sea, thereby echoing and giving ode to the classic roots.
The samphire not only adds a touch of refinement, uniqueness and a refreshing salty taste to the dish, but also gives a nice crunch. Paella rice should be cooked until perfectly soft and each grain has soaked up the broth, coating it in flavour, the base should be perfectly crisped, and all textures should work in harmony. With a little lemon squeezed over your portion .. perfection.
In my opinion paella is best served outside on a nice sunny spring day, still in it’s pan so everyone can help themselves, talk about life and laugh over a meal that just tastes like the sun and summer and all things good.
Vegetarian Paella with Samphire
A vegetable paella with a taste of the sea
- Olive Oil
- 200g Paella Rice
- Handle of samphire
- 1 Onion
- 1 Bell Pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 tin of tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes
- 3 mushrooms or more, as required
- Homemade vegetable stock (mild), or water
- 4 Garlic cloves
- Pinch saffron
- 2 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- Salt and Pepper
- Few sprigs of thyme
- Boil a little water and set it aside in a small bowl. Take the pinch of saffron and leave it to soak until instructed to use.
- Prepare your vegetables. Chop the onion, garlic, bell pepper, fennel and tomatoes, if using, finely. Slice the mushrooms. Remove the ends for the asparagus and slice into rounds, leaving the tips intact.
- In a wide and deep frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent, stirring with a wooden spoon. When cooked, add the garlic, bell pepper, and fennel, frying until aromatic. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add these at this stage and ½ cup water.
- If using tinned tomatoes, add them now and stir.
- Tip in the paella rice – water should partly cover.
- Now add saffron (and water), smoked paprika, and the thyme leaves & sprigs. Leave it to simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Now add the remaining water to the paella and leave it to cook for about 15 minutes, covered. It’s imperative that you don’t stir, but do check regularly to make sure the rice is not cooking completely dry. The crispy later on the bottom is known as “socarrat” and an essential part of the paella, so don’t scrape it away.
- While paella is cooking, gently fry the chopped mushrooms until cooked but not browned.
- For the last 5 minutes, add the chopped asparagus and mushrooms, and then cover again.
- Serve in the pan and garnish with sliced lemon for everyone to tuck into.