This vegetarian paella is colorful, aromatic, and has a savory smoky flavor that’s truly unforgettable. Flecked with artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers and green peas.
When Rick & I got married, instead of a typical sit down dinner, we had some paella chefs come out and cook for us. They brought their ginormous paella pans that were at least 3-feet wide and they basically stole the show (see the bottom of this post for pics).
So, paella definitely has a fond place in my heart!
Paella is a flavorful Spanish-inspired dish that often includes meat and seafood. This vegetarian version includes artichokes and sweet piquillo peppers, beautifully aligning with the aromatic flavors of Spanish cuisine. The quick aioli adds a creamy finish that blends perfectly with the savory paella.
This dish only takes only a little over an hour and one pan to cook, making it easy to add to your dinner rotation. And, trust me– after eating this once, you’ll already be planning the next time to make it.
If you can follow the golden rule of paella, do not stir, you’ll be rewarded with the crave-able crispy crust at the bottom known as socarrat. While it might be hard to do, restrain yourself and your spoon.
You’ll thank me when you’re savoring this crispy layer of pure flavor.
Note: If you forego the aioli, this is a totally vegan paella.
🥗 Vegetarian paella ingredients
- Parsley – Fresh parsley is the base for the herb blend.
- Olive oil – Olive oil is used in the paella and herb blend. Use extra virgin olive oil for a sharper taste or light olive oil for a more delicate flavor. Both will work depending on your preference.
- Lemon – Fresh lemon juice is used in the herb blend, aioli, and paella. You’ll need to juice two to three lemons, either with a citrus juicer or by cutting them in half and squeezing out as much juice as possible.
- Vegetable stock – Use either vegetable broth or even chicken or bone broth if you’re not worried about this dish being “vegetarian.”
- Jarred peppers – Use either sweet piquillo peppers or roasted sweet red peppers. You can also swap in these air fryer peppers or grilled bell peppers.
- Artichoke hearts – Drain the can of artichoke hearts and cut them in half or quarter them if not already quartered.
- Green peas – Frozen peas are perfect for this paella.
- Onion – Use white or yellow onion.
- Rice – This recipe uses arborio rice, but any short or medium-grain rice like bomba, sushi, valencia, calasparra rice, or short-grain brown rice will work. Avoid long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati.
- Saffron – Dried saffron is used in the aioli and paella. You don’t need much- a little bit goes a long way!
- Mayonnaise – Makes a creamy aioli to serve with the paella.
- Paprika – Sweet and smoked paprika help add a savory, smoky flavor to the paella.
- Canned Tomatoes
- Salt & pepper
👩🍳 How to make it
There are a few parts to this dish, but it comes together quickly and is definitely worth the effort!
Mix the herb blend
To make the herb blend, combine the parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, and salt and pepper together in a small dish and set aside.
Make the quick aioli
In another small dish, add the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, saffron, and salt. Whisk until everything is combined and set aside in the refrigerator.
Make the vegetarian paella
Add the water, stock, and saffron to a large pot over low heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer and keep the heat low to prevent it from boiling.
Heat the oil in a paella pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for four to five minutes, until softened.
Drain the can of tomatoes using a mesh strainer to push the juices out. Add the tomatoes to the pan with the onions and sauté for another three minutes.
Add both the sweet and smoked paprika and sliced garlic to the pan along with the rice and stir until everything is combined and the rice is coated.
Add the herb mix, peas and stock mixture to the pan and stir. Arrange the artichoke hearts and roasted peppers on top of the rice and press down with a spoon to submerge.
Without stirring, turn the heat to medium-high and let the liquid come to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom.
Remove the pan from heat and sprinkle the paella with 1/4 cup lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and quick aioli.
🥘 What about Socarrat?
You’ll know that you’ve cooked your paella correctly if you have a nice crispy layer of rice at the bottom, known as socarrat. To make this crispy layer, make sure you follow two key steps in the paella making process.
First, once you add the stock to the pan, do not stir or disturb anything. You want the rice to stay settled at the bottom while it cooks. Second, in the final minute of cooking, turn the heat up high so that the rice that is at the bottom gets nice and toasted.
Don’t worry if you don’t manage to get socarrat, your paella will still taste amazing, but it’s worth trying for as this savory crispy layer is truly delicious.
🥣 How to store and reheat paella
Store leftover paella in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
To reheat, add the vegetarian paella to a pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Add one tablespoon of water and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the paella is heated through.
Try adding in any of your favorite vegetables. Some other great options are asparagus, green beans, spinach, or leeks.
🍽 Recipe FAQs
Bomba rice, short-grain brown rice, and arborio rice all work well for paella. Avoid long-grain rice like jasmine or basmati.
Paella pans are wide shallow pans that allow liquids to evaporate while cooking evenly. They don’t come with lids since the goal is to evaporate the liquid from the dish. If you don’t have a paella pan, any wide shallow skillet will do the trick.
Once the stock is added to the pan, paella is traditionally not stirred so that the bottom layer of rice creates a flavorful crusty layer on the bottom.
Did you try this recipe?
If you loved this vegetarian paella, I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a ⭐️star review⭐️! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
More rice dishes
If you loved this vegetarian paella, you’ll love these other rice-based meals:
- Cheesy Instant Pot Lentils and Rice
- Bacon Fried Rice and Shallots
- Crispy Rice Sushi Bites
- Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice
Vegetarian Paella Recipe
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic (grated or minced)
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic (grated or minced)
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice (to taste)
- Pinch saffron (optional)
- Pinch salt
- 32 ounces vegetable stock (or bone broth or chicken broth)
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion (minced)
- 1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 4 large cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups uncooked arborio rice
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts (drained and cut in half or quartered)
- 1 9-oz. jar sweet piquillo peppers (or roasted sweet red peppers, drained)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Combine the ingredients for the herb blend in a small bowl and set aside.
- In a second small bowl, combine the ingredients for the aioli. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Combine stock, water and saffron in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and keep warm over low heat (do not boil).
- Heat oil in a paella pan or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes, until softened.
- Drain the can of tomatoes well, using a mesh strainer to push the juices out.
- Add the tomatoes to the onions and sauté another 3 minutes. Add both paprikas and sliced garlic.
- Add the rice and stir to coat the grains.
- Add the herb mixture, peas and stock mixture and stir. Arrange the artichoke hearts and roasted peppers on top of the rice and press to submerge.
- Without stirring, let the liquid come to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1/4 cup lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and quick aioli.
- Store leftover paella in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
- To reheat, add the vegetarian paella to a pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Add one tablespoon of water and cover. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the paella is heated through.