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Rice with Things

By Nancy Eisman
Image of Plant Based Paella
Paella, pronounced pie-aye-ah, is a Valencian dish built around saffron-infused rice. Onions, garlic, peppers, peas, artichokes and tomatoes are classic add-ins, and you can stay bang on authentic with these ingredients or modify the basic recipe to include what’s available and what you like. Shallots instead of onions, and edamame in place of peas are two swaps in this recipe. And since we’re all about plant-based on this blog, the traditional seafood, chicken and/or chorizo is being replaced with wild lobster mushrooms, seasonal sunflower chokes, and soyrizo, and I promise you will not feel cheated.

While stalwarts of classic Spanish paella would take exception with any deviation from the ingredients used for hundreds of years, what mostly makes paella different from other “rice with things” one-pan dishes is the addition of the incredibly fragrant and uniquely flavorful saffron. So when you make paella your own, you’ll be joining celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey who have been criticized for also going rogue – pretty good culinary company I think.

The word “paella” actually refers to the large, wide, and shallow pan it is cooked in, but other heavy bottomed pans work just fine. As you build the dish, adding in the different colors, flavors, and textures of the varied ingredients, you’ll start imaging the finished dish and the pleasure your creativity will bring to your palate. Cooked on the stovetop and brought in the pan right to your table, paella is definitely a one-pan wonder you’ll want to make again and again.

Plant-Based Paella


2½ tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 Anaheim chile, diced
½ cup soyrizo
½ cup peeled and sliced sunflower chokes
2 cloves garlic, diced
10 baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in quarters
1½ cups jasmine brown rice (cooks in 20 minutes)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 package (1/2 ounce) wild lobster mushrooms
2 pinches saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
½ cup shelled edamame
½ cup steamed garbanzo beans
½ cup steamed artichoke hearts
½ cup fire roasted red bell peppers, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
½ cup parsley, chopped
Additional olive oil to drizzle


In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, heat 2½ tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until it begins to sizzle. Add the shallots, chile, soyrizo, and sunchokes to the pan and sauté 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and brown rice and sauté another 2 minutes.

Add the vegetable broth, saffron, turmeric, and paprika to the pan and turn the heat up until the mixture begins to boil. Cover the pan, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the lid, add in the edamame, garbanzo beans, artichoke hearts, and red bell peppers, replace the lid, and continue cooking 5 more minutes.

Remove the lid, taste the paella, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with chopped fresh parsley, and serve.
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