Paella is a rice dish that originates from Valencia in Spain. It’s traditionally made with chicken or seafood, but a vegetable version has appeared over the years, and is slowly gaining popularity.
It’s a dish I thought I’d share because it bursts with punchy flavours from the paprika, chilli and lemon.
For this dish, I thought I’d throw some sautéed Jerusalem artichokes in here (not artichokes at all oddly!) because, whilst they can grow happily in the UK climate, they’re not something we’d see in supermarkets until recently. They add a nutty texture and crunch to the paella providing you don’t over-cook them! They’re full of inulin, a type of carbohydrate that the bugs that live in your gut love! However, if you suffer from IBS or any other gut problem, I would try this either in a small amount first or leave it out completely.
- Paella is made with bomba rice (or Calasparra rice), but if that isn’t easily available for you, try using Arborio or Carnaroli rice – it’s very similar in texture, as they’re all short-grain. Some supermarkets simply sell this as “risotto rice”, and it’s pretty much the same thing! I’ve seen blogs use Basmati rice – please don’t. It’s a long grain rice, will stick and doesn’t have the robustness to cope with risotto or paella style cooking.
- If you want to get the seafood feel without adding seafood, trying using seaweeds and vegetables such as samphire.
- You can use whatever vegetable combination you want, it’s a great recipe for just using up whatever’s in the fridge!
- Saffron is crazy expensive, and you might prefer to use something else instead. You could try using a very small pinch of turmeric, a really small pinch, otherwise your dish will be as yellow as the sun!
- Paella is made using a huge flat paella pan, but if you have a wok, that’ll do (it’s what I used, if you look close enough!)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 300 g short-grain rice such as bomba rice
- 2 tsp paprika smoked or sweet
- 900 ml vegetable stock or chicken stock if you’re not vegetarian
- 6 strands saffron or 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
- Handful baby corns chopped
- Handful baby asparagus spears chopped
- 1 small butternut squash cubed
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 small carrot diced
- 3 jerusalem artichokes diced (skinned or not, your choice!)
- Bunch flat leaf parsley chopped
- 0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes or 2 fresh chillis finely chopped
- 1 lemon juiced
In a frying pan, heat half the oil and sauté the carrot, butternut squash for a few minutes and then add the artichokes. Fry off until softened, but with a bite (about 10 minutes). Put aside. Make up the stock, adding the saffron strands.
In the same pan, add a little more oil and fry the onion until softened and yellowing and then add the garlic, sweetcorns and pepper.
Stir in the rice, chilli and paprika (and turmeric if using) and cook for another minute, then add the stock and tomatoes. Bring to boil then simmer for , stirring occasionally.
After 10-15 minutes simmering time, add the parsley, 3/4 lemon juice and vegetables and stir in . The paella is done when most of the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through with just a bite (al dente) at the end. Depending on how much rice you use, this dish can take around 20-30 minutes to absorb all the water. Keep tasting the rice until it achieves a texture you like.
Serve with a squeeze of the remaining lemon.
Seb is a writer and blogger of food and nutrition. He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in nutrition science, and has studied sports and exercise nutrition at postgraduate level. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and believes passionately that we can all live with a little less meat. He writes for www.veggieandspice.com and www.itsaboutnutrition.com