Paella, a super flavoursome Valencian Spanish rice dish, is a favourite in this house! Usually made with a variety of seafoods or chicken and chorizo, I’ve made a vegan version which uses chargrilled eggplant (aubergine) and capsicum (pepper), two of my favourite things!! It’s also got some gorgeous blistered cherry tomatoes on top from my uncle’s garden – thanks Mark!
Once cooked, you can just refrigerate it in the pot so there’s not too much cleaning up to do at all! You can also add whatever you like to it depending on your tastes – all in the spirit of Paella anyway, which has always been thrown together in a huge pan over a fire to feed a lot of people. I made a smaller batch of mine for myself to not waste it, so rest assured it’s usually much bigger and grander than this petite one in the photo!
Approximate cost: $20-$30, depending how stocked your spice rack is
Time taken: 40 minutes from prep to table
Nutrition: huge burst of essential vitamins and minerals. Needs additions to boost the protein, iron and calcium content – consider adding spinach or some legumes such as chickpeas or beans (green beans are pretty traditional!).
1 3/4 cups medium-grain rice, unwashed
3 litres vegetable stock
Pinch saffron threads
2 tbsp ground sweet paprika
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric – optional, but for that extra burst of colour
12-15 whole cherry tomatoes
1 eggplant, cut into 2-3cm wide strips
1 red capsicum, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, diced finely
1 large onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Lime wedges, to serve
Chopped coriander and flat-leaf parsley, to serve
Preheat oven to 200*C. Lay sliced eggplant, sliced capsicum and whole cherry tomatoes on baking trays and rub with some extra-virgin olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until vegetables are cooked and slightly blackened and tomatoes have burst. Once cooked, set grilled vegetables aside.
Meanwhile, combine vegetable stock and saffron and heat in a saucepan or in the microwave until hot. Set aside.
In a large round frying pan or paella pan, drizzle a little olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add onion and fry until translucent, then add garlic and capsicum and continue to fry until softened. Add in rice with a drizzle of extra olive oil and toast lightly until glossy, then stir through spices and tomato. Pour in a third of the stock and stir again to combine.
Turn the heat up to maximum and allow rice to cook, topping it up gradually with ladlefuls of more warm stock as it absorbs. Don’t stir – you want the paella to form a crust and this will be accomplished if you don’t disturb it. This absorption process will take about 10-15 minutes.
Once rice is cooked, arrange grilled vegetables and frozen peas on top of paella. Turn heat off and place the lid on or cover with a tea towel and let sit for 5-10 minutes or until peas are cooked through and any remaining liquid is fully absorbed.
Serve straight from the pan, topped with lime wedges and plenty of chopped fresh herbs.