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.
Vegetarian Paella Recipe
Ingredients (1cup = 240ml; 1tbsp = 15ml; 1tsp = 5ml)
- 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.
- Wash and cook brown rice in 3 cups of water. Keep aside. Click here for my blog post on how to cook fluffy basmati rice and how to cook the best brown rice.
- 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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Would love to start a conversation, share recipes, cooking experiences and food stories from India and around the world.
Very first. ….Badiya means star annis , well. .myself jitu from Los Angeles( basically from Surat – Guj) , I want to start a small scale Restaurant over here with different names & different recipes. ( non veg base)
For that I think I have to be know about all spices .
Is this only a way to talk if I need any ideas ?
I have sent you an email. we can also talk over email for ideas!
Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen
The flavours in this sound simply stunning! Such a great idea, thank you for sharing!
Thank you Carrie!
Hey Ashima! This paella looks amazing. Love the flavor combinations. I’ll have to try out this recipe. Well done!
Thanks Matt! I am sure everyone will love it when you make it! 🙂
Gloria @ Homemade & Yummy
Well even a non-vegetarian would love this. I am not a tofu fan, but would happily sway it out for say chickpeas. Perfect for a great weeknight dinner.
Sure chickpeas will make a great addition to the paella and will make a good protein swap with tofu. Next time I’m going to try it with chickpeas too! Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Delicious! I have meaning to make a veg paella recipe forever. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks Kate! I am so glad the recipe has inspired you!
dixya @food, pleasure, and health
i have had paella only a handful number of times and its been delicious..now im tempted to give this one a try. looks delish!
Thank Dixya! Do give it a try and twist of your own favourite veggies 🙂
Elaine @ Dishes Delish
I love paella, with or without meat! This looks so delicious! I love all the flavor combinations and I bet this is just as tasty leftover!
Thanks so much Elaine! It tastes great as a leftover too.. we had enough to cover for lunch for two the next day 🙂
I’m always looking for nice and family-friendly vegetarian dishes for our meatless nights.
Oh this is so perfect for those and it all in one big pot so gives that family and communal dining feeling 🙂
Thanks so much for dropping by!
I have never seen a vegetarian paella recipe before, but this looks really tasty! I love all of the variety you’ve included in this dish. I’m sure the flavors are wonderful!
The flavours go together wonderfully and the best part about paella is how you can mix and match so many of them!
What a beautiful dish! I love paella but never tried vegetarian version… Definitely should make it)
You should definitely try the vegetarian version and I guarantee you won’t miss the meat in this recipe 🙂 I added tofu for the extra protein, but you can also add chickpeas and other beans.. Thank you so much for dropping by!
This LOOKS like the absolute best – I think I’ll make a bunch of this and portion it out to take to work for lunch!
This is perfect for lunch box meals! I am so glad you liked the recipe.. do let me know how it goes 🙂
Abby @ WinsteadWandering
Your paella is gorgeous! I love all the vibrant colors.
I cooked a big batch for 10 people and everyone said they loved the colours and the combination of different vegetables in this one.. and it sat so beautifully in my new paella pan 🙂
Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life
Everyone raves about paella but I’ve never been able to eat it because I can’t eat shellfish. So excited to give this vegetarian version a try!
I am so happy you finally came across a vegetarian paella recipe! Let me know when you give it a go 🙂