Ducky’s Vegan Paella Recipe

Posted in Recipes at 1:14 am by ducky

I had paella for the first time courtesy of my nephew Z and his wife R, and it was awesome.  A few weeks later, I had it at a restaurant and decided I had to have it!  After some trial-and-error, here is what I came up with:

In a saucepan, boil:

  • 3 C water
  • 2 heaping teaspoons full of Vegetable Better Than Boullion goo ← unsolicited endorsement, this stuff is great
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 2-6 saffron threads
  • 1 C arborio rice ← Important! Arborio absorbs more water than regular rice

Meanwhile, sauté with a flat-edged spatula:

  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 t cayenne OR 1 jalapeño
  • 1 poblano or 1 green pepper (poblano is slightly spicier)
  • 1 yellow or red pepper
  • (optional: green onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves

I listed the above in the rough inverse order of how much cooking they need.  I tend to put the garlic in RIGHT before I put in the spices.

After sautéeing until the onions are transparent:

  • 2 HEAPING t smoked paprika (which is probably more like 3 or 4 level teaspoons)
  • 12 turns black pepper from a pepper grinder (1 tsp?)
  • 7 turns white pepper from a pepper grinder

WARNING: stuff, especially the spices, will want to stick to the bottom of the pan.  I use a flat-edged wooden spatula to be able to get the crud off the bottom.  Adding a little more oil will reduce but not eliminate the desire to stick to the bottom.

Put in the spices and stir/cook for not very long (another 3-5 min?), then stir in:

  • 2 med tomatoes
  • all the stuff from the saucepan (rice plus liquids)
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • (optional) 1 handful of parsley or cilantro

I don’t have a good way of describing when to stop boiling the rice mixture and put it into the big pot.  When it gets close, the rice grains will get soft on the outside but still have just a little piece in the interior which will still be al dente in the interior.  At the end, the rice needs to be soft all the way through, but not overcooked; the timing works out for me such that the big pot is ready to receive the rice mixture at a time when the rice isn’t soft all the way through yet… so I usually put in the rice into the big pot when it is _slightly_ al dente still and let it do its final softening in the big pot.

I sometimes add some water here so that the water level is almost to the top of the veggies.

Simmer until the rice is soft all the way through, and most of the liquid should be below the level of the top of the rice.  (5min?  15min?)

I understand that the “authentic” way to do paella is to boil the rice with everything in the big pot, it’s a bit faster to start the rice cooking while the veggies are sautéeing.  It’s also authentic to stop stirring and let the bottom of the food brown, but I am too afraid of burning it so I have never managed that trick.

I try to adjust the quantities based on the size of the vegetables I have on hand.  If I have a huge honkin’ onion and huge honkin’ tomatoes, I might use three small peppers, 1.5 cups of rice, etc.  If I only have one small onion, I might add some scallions or shallots.

This is a very robust recipe. When I make it, I vary the ingredients quite a bit.  I don’t have set times, the heapingness of the teaspoons is very hand-wavy, etc.   I frequently need to add a little bit of oil late in the process to help keep stuff from sticking.

I think this is a recipe which you should not be afraid to vary a bit.  If you like things spicier, use a little more cayenne and a little less paprika.  If you like things less spicy, use a green bell pepper and no cayenne or jalapeño.  If you don’t have onions but do have scallions, use scallions.  Double batches work just fine.

It probably would work better if you had a real paella pan, but I don’t have one.  I make it in a dutch oven (with a side saucepan for cooking the initial rice mixture).

Comments are closed.