Fancy cooking up your own Spanish feast at home?
I’ve collaborated with UK recipe box home delivery service HelloFresh to share this quick, easy and extremely healthy vegetarian paella recipe that even the abuelos of Valencia would be proud of!
First things first, I’d like to mention that the HelloFresh food subscription service delivers step-by-step recipe boxes directly to your front door.
They contain everything you need to make this vibrant vegetarian paella recipe yourself, as well as countless other dishes. The ingredients are already pre-portioned to make your cooking experience even quicker and more convenient.
This is a fantastic idea for busy people who love eating well in their own home and want to try out new and exciting dishes.
What exactly is Spanish paella and arroz?
The Spanish are obsessed with their ‘arroz’ (rice) dishes and they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes.
Us Brits tend to think of paella as being a generic Spanish dish, but it’s actually a regional dish from Valencia, right in the middle of Spain’s orange-scented eastern coast. Valencia is still the best place to eat paella in Spain!
You probably think of paella as being a seafood affair, but it was originally made with green beans, chicken and rabbit (like all the best dishes, it was the creation of farmers and labourers).
In a way, paella is sort of like how pasties are from Cornwall, or Yorkshire puddings from, well, you get the picture…
When served outside of Valencia, paella is typically referred to simply as ‘arroz’ (rice), and these days is more frequently served with seafood than rabbit.
Tip: ‘Paella’ is actually the name of the wide and shallow pan that paella is made in. You can use any old pan, although technically it is only a ‘paella’ unless it’s been made in a paella pan. It’s also worth noting that the Spanish would only ever eat a paella at lunchtime – they deem it far too heavy to eat a dinner, before going to bed. But us Brits will enjoy it at anytime of day.
So why vegetarian paella?
I’m not a vegetarian, but I try not to eat meat/fish more than once a week. I suppose you could say I’m flexitarian.
Not only for health reasons, but also because it’s hard to ignore the impact that our insatiable consumption is having on marine ecosystems, wildlife biodiversity and the climate in general.
It seems obvious to me that if everyone started eating a little less animal protein, we would be able to farm and fish in a much more sustainable way and curtail the damage we are doing to our land and oceans.
Even one day a week could make a huge difference to the planet – see the Meat Free Mondays website for more inspiration.
Also, buying fresh seafood to make a paella makes it an extremely costly affair, and I’d like to think this vegetarian paella recipe is affordable enough to enjoy on a weekly basis.
Oh, and of course vegetarian paella is still absolutely bloody delicious, and healthy to boot!
Vamos a cocinar! (Let’s get cooking!)
Note: This vegetarian paella is based on HelloFresh’s recipe, but I’ve made a few subtle changes to suit my taste (mainly extra garlic!).
Ingredients needed for this vegetarian Spanish paella recipe (serves two):
Ultra top tip: The Spanish wouldn’t dream of drinking anything other than white wine with their arroz/paella – especially if it’s a seafood paella. And the best news of all, I was absolutely stunned and delighted to find a fantastic crisp and zesty Albariño white wine at Tesco (so I’m sure you can find it at all good wine shops in the UK), which is the perfect pairing for this dish.
Instructions for making your vegetarian Spanish paella
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Peel and chop the garlic (as much as you like – you can never have too much garlic).
Halve and chop the red pepper into small squares.
Roughly chop the button mushrooms.
Drain and rinse the kidney beans.
Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-to-high heat.
Add the onion and pepper and gently fry until soft (roughly 5 mins.).
Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2-3 mins before adding the garlic.
Do as all abuelos do and add a good splash of white wine to the mix while topping up your glass.
Boil a full kettle of water (you’ll only need about 400 millimetres, but it’s good to have more later on if your rice hasn’t cooked enough).
Put your vegetable stock pot in a large measuring jug and add the boiling water – give it a good stir.
Add 175 grams (roughly enough to cover the whole pan) of the arborio rice, as well as the smoked paprika and turmeric, to the pan.
Give it all a good stir.
Tip: You might be tempted to use a different type of rice, but it really does need to be arborio rice in this case. Definitely, whatever you do, DO NOT use basmati rice.
Pour in the stock (the boiling water with stock pot) and the kidney beans, then give it all a stir.
Add the tomato purée and peas (I didn’t add peas but I do love them in a paella).
Give everything one last stir and then lower the heat to medium-low.
Leave to simmer (without a lid) for 20-25 mins, until the water and juices have evaporated and been absorbed by the rice.
Tip top tip: Do not stir your paella after this point. You can give the pan a bit of a shake, but you mustn’t stir it. A proper paella will have a slightly crusty, caramelised bottom known as the ‘socarrat’. This is actually the bit most Spanish families fight over at the table!
Keep an eye on your paella. You’ll know when it’s done once the the liquid has all been absorbed by the rice.
I suggest using a spoon to scoop out a little bit (dig deep to check the ‘socarrat’). If the rice hasn’t cooked enough, you may want to add a little bit more stock or boiling water and leave it a little longer.
While you’re waiting, remove the parsley leaves from their stalks and chop them.
Slice the lemon into squeezable wedges and slice the olives into halves.
Plate up your paella or simply place the whole pan on the table so everyone can help themselves.
I like to serve the parsley, olives and lemon wedges in little bowls on the table so everyone can sprinkle as much or as little a they want over their paella.
Serve with a nicely chilled bottle of Albariño wine, crank up your favourite Spanish music compilation and have a bloody good time.
Tip: Remember, the best part of a Spanish feast is the ‘sobremesa’ (literally: around the table), which is the hour or so families in Spain spend around the table, talking and sipping coffee/brandy, after the meal.
Try HelloFresh yourself – how it works
- Go to HelloFresh.co.uk and choose a weekly meal plan from the impressive list of recipes (you can skip weeks and cancel at any time).
- Choose a convenient delivery time.
- Receive your fresh and pre-portioned ingredients and flick through the step-by-step recipe cards.
- Crank up your stereo, open a bottle of vino and start having fun in the kitchen with new and exciting dishes.
Tip: Driftwood Journals readers get £10 off your first delivery box with discount code!
Note: This post is sponsored by HelloFresh but all opinions, thoughts and photos are honest and come from the heart.