Seems I’ve been inspired by seafood recipes lately, first a vegetarian salt & pepper squid and now a vegetarian recipe for the classic dish paella. My brother and Rhi quite often talk of the amazing paella they ate while on holiday in Spain and I’m never able to stop myself from drooling thinking of how delicious it must have been.
I would love to travel to Spain, the scenery, the culture, history and of course the food all holds a fascination for me that maybe one day I will get a chance to experience. Until then I will have to settle with attempting to recreate Spanish style dishes here at home.
For this vegetarian paella recipe I used roasted pumpkin with sugar snap peas and then added roasted orange segments, saffron and dry roasted pistachio nuts for a truly aromatic finish, yum! Cooking paella is reasonably simple providing you have a large heavy based frying pan. If you only have a smallish one you could always halve the recipe if cooking for two people.
Use a good quality homemade or store brought stock to get the best flavor and a nice sweet pumpkin like kent or butternut (squash). Try serving this wonderful healthy vegetable paella with a little aioli(ish) mayo or aioli if you enjoy eggs and a good squeeze of fresh orange or lemon, so good!!
Preparation Time: 55mins
- 3 tbs olive oil
- ½ tbs Greek (spice) seasoning
- 1 kg (2lb) piece of pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2½cm (1 inch) pieces
- 1 large orange, skinned and cut into segments
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- ¼ tsp saffron treads
- ¼ cup hot water
- 1½ cups Arborio (risotto) rice
- 1 lt vegetable stock
- 120g (4 oz) sugar snap peas
- 30g (1 oz) pistachio nuts, dry roasted in a hot pan for a few minutes
Pre-heat the oven to around 200°C/392°F
Combine the saffron with the ¼ cup of hot water, set aside.
Toss the pumpkin pieces in a large bowl with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and the greek seasoning until well coated. Arrange the pumpkin pieces on a roasting tray, spreading evenly and roast in the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven, give the tray a shake and toss the pumpkin pieces around. Scatter over the orange segments and return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile bring the stock to boil in a saucepan, turn off the heat cover with a lid and set aside.
In a large heavy based frying pan heat the remaining olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) over a medium heat, add the onion and fry for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomato paste and saffron mixture stirring over a medium heat until combined. Add the rice and toss to coat well.
Add about half the stock shaking the pan occasionally to make sure the rice is evenly spread across the bottom. Cook the paella over a medium/high heat allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid and a crust to begin to form on the bottom.
Add the remaining stock and the sugar snap peas, do not stir the paella and turning down the heat a little allow the rice to absorb the liquid, this should take around 10-15 minutes.
Keeping an eye on the paella add the roasted pumpkin and orange towards the end when there is still a little liquid to be absorbed, tucking the pumpkin and orange in carefully with a wooden spoon being careful not to disturb the crust forming on the bottom.
Once all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice tender, toss over the dry roasted pistachio nuts and again tuck them in carefully. Remove the paella from the heat and allow to sit covered for 10 minutes to allow the crust to crisp up.
Serve the paella with wedges of orange and/or lemon and a little aioli(ish) mayo or aioli.
A delicious vegetarian meal full of wonderful flavor and texture that everyone will enjoy; perfect for a family meal or when entertaining.
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