This vegetarian paella is loaded with seasonal vegetables, tofu, a mix of white and brown rice and fresh flavours. It is fresh, hearty, healthy and super easy to make. I always picture paella as being super colourful, so I added lots of different types of veggies – onions, sweet potato, different bell peppers, corn, peas, carrots… almost all veggies that are currently available and will go well together.
The only seasoning there is, is salt, pepper, parsley and lemon juice. All the taste is of the vegetables you put in and it is quite an open field when choosing them. This vegetable paella is the perfect one-dish party dinner. I just paired it with a light salad and we had an amazing party of 10 with just a little leftover to cover our lunch the next day :-). I love leftovers like that.
When I had finished cooking, the colourful veggie paella in its pan, brought back fond memories of college time. I had my first paella when I was a student in LSE. Covent Garden is the place for upscale restaurants but there was a paella stall in the courtyard that wasn’t actually expensive and on weekends was a great place to hang out as there was always some live music and lots of crowd. I actually feel like right now I am standing right there in the middle of all the crowd and these two big pans of paella. I had never seen pans as big as those till than!
I was fascinated by the colours in those pans and for a newbie like me, the dish was a lot like fried rice. Paella is a hearty rice dish from Spain. It is traditionally made with seafood, chicken or sausages but veggie and vegan paellas are on the rise now and you can find them in restaurants more easily. Also, a special Bomba rice is used for cooking paella. Instead of Bomba rice, I have used a mix of brown rice and white basmati rice. I love the aroma of basmati and since I was cooking a big batch for 10 people, I wanted that beautiful aroma :-). You can totally make it with just brown rice and I am sure it will be just as delicious. Maybe more. So in all fairness I should say my recipe for vegetarian paella is more “paella-like” than exactly paella. I use tofu as the main protein ingredient.
It was also the inauguration of my ceramic paella pan, though you really don’t need one and any big pan would work just fine. I had bought because it was this beautiful black pan on a ridiculous 70% off sale. I am sure I will find more uses for it other that just making and serving paella in it. Though it is the most authentic way to serve a paella.
Am I talking too much? I am sorry. I am so excited about this recipe and the way it turned out and the way everyone loved it! No more talking and onto the recipe. zip.
Just one thing, if you like this recipe, please please take a moment to rate it and/ or leave your comments at the end of the blog. It will really encourage me to keep exploring, learning and improving.
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup brown rice
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 green chilli deseeded and chopped
- 2 medium onions peeled and sliced
- 1 cup carrots peeled and julienned
- ½ cup cauliflower broken into small florets
- 2 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
- 2 red bell peppers cut into sticks
- 1 yellow bell pepper cut into sticks
- ½ cup corn steamed or thawed if using frozen
- 1 cup peas steamed or thawed if using frozen
- 250 g plain tofu cut into small cubes
- salt to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 lemons juice of
- 1 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
Wash and cook basmati rice in 2 cup of water. Keep aside.
Put the paella pan on medium heat. You can use any sauté pan big enough for the amount of veggies and rice you have.
Add oil and when the oil is hot, add bay leaves, garlic and chillies.
Sauté till the garlic just starts to turn brown. Add onions and sauté for a minute. Bayleaves, garlic, onions and chillies are like aromatics and are always added first to flavour the oil.
Add the tougher vegetables like carrot, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower first, allowing them longer time to cook. Mix well and sauté for 8-10 minutes till they start to turn soft.
Add bell peppers, steamed corn, peas, and tofu. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper.
Now slowly add the cooked white and brown rice little by little and gently mix them together with the veggies.
Add lemon juice, mix well and remove from heat.
Sprinkle fresh parsley and give everything a good mix.
Serve hot with lemon wedges on side.
- When you are mixing in the rice, I say mix gently as otherwise the rice might break with so much mixing.
- Change/add more seasonal vegetables of your choice and create your own beautiful paella mix.
It is amazing how rice lends itself to many different dishes! If you liked this vegetarian paella recipe, check out more of my experiments in cooking with rice, from starters to mains to desserts, by clicking on the image below.
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