The perfect picnic fare – paella, a popular Mediterranean seafood dish, here is made vegan by replacing rice and fish with artichokes, mushrooms and super healthy quinoa, providing a powerful protein punch! Serve hot or cold!
Vegan Artichoke Quinoa Paella
Traditional paella is a popular Spanish dish made of rice, seafood, and exotic spices such as saffron.
In my pre-plant-based days, I vacationed in Mallorca, a beautiful island off the coast of Spain. I stayed at a tiny inn on the second flour of a restaurant. And I was told to place my order for the next day’s paella – the only dish the restaurant served – 24 hours in advance.
They actually cooked the rice and seafood mixture that long to build the flavors.
Well, I am not really in to cooking a dish for 24 hours, but I did want a good plant-based paella, and I think I have created one.
Here, I subbed the traditional paella’s short grain rice for quinoa for fiber and protein and to be gluten-free, and artichokes and mushrooms replace the seafood.
Saffron is the spicy star in both my new vegan version and the traditional recipe. I also added a dash of paprika and veggie broth for flavor. And quinoa is the protein star.
All About Quinoa
You probably already know about quinoa, but I’m going to share specifics anyway since I’m writing it up for the ingredient list in my upcoming book!
Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is a seed, not a grain. It is actually considered a pseudo-cereal (as are amaranth and buckwheat) and is actually a member of the spinach and beet family.
No matter the label, quinoa has a high-protein content (4g of protein per 1/2 cup). It also has a low glycemic index, is high in magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese. And finally, it is one of the few plants that provides all the essential amino acids.
Quinoa can actually be eaten raw (as popped quinoa toppings on yogurt or ice cream) or cooked as in this recipe. In both situations, however, rinse it in a strainer to remove the bitter residue of saponins, a natural occurring plant-defense.
How to Make Vegan Mediterranean Quinoa Paella
Quinoa paella is quite easy to make actually.
The quinoa itself is double-cooked, but as I said, cooking doesn’t change it’s protein content.
First prepare the quinoa, simmering it in water (1 parts quinoa to 2 parts water), similar to cooking rice. Actually here I simmered it in organic vegetable broth for added flavor.
Then prepare the vegetables. I just tossed in all the veggies I had, so you can vary it up based on what’s in your refrigerator. I would just pay a bit of attention to adding some color as in carrots or red peppers, and sundried tomatoes for more flavor.
Then I brown the veggies in a bit of avocado oil. I used avocado oil to add a buttery quality to the mix, but you can use olive oil if that is what you have on hand.
Add the browned veggies to the prepared quinoa, toss and simmer the mixture on very low heat, without stirring, just long enough to create a thin crust on the bottom.
There are actually paella pans that are meant to help you make the traditional paella bottom crust. That crust is a quintessential aspect of a traditional paella.
I didn’t use one, but if you want, here is a paella pan in case you are interested.
Serve this recipe as a main dish or a side, and feel free to customize based on veggies in your frig, such as adding cauliflower and chickpeas and more.
I hope you try this easy and delightful recipe!
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Vegan Artichoke Quinoa Paella
The perfect picnic fare - paella, a popular Mediterranean seafood dish, here is made vegan by replacing rice and fish with artichokes, mushrooms and super healthy quinoa, providing a powerful protein punch! Serve hot or cold!
- 2 tbsp avocado oil (or use olive oil)
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1 can artichoke hearts quartered
- 5-8 white mushrooms diced
- 5 scallions tips, chopped
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 tomato diced
- 1/2 cup carrots shredded
- black olives diced
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and boiled
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads
- handful of peas
- parsley diced
- pinch paprika
Heat the oil, saute the scallions and garlic until fragrant, stir in artichokes and mushrooms, allow slight browning. Then add in remaining vegetables and spices, stirring until they soften slightly, but don’t over cook.
Turn pan off, let rest uncovered, and prepare quinoa.
Set 2 cups of vegetable broth and saffron threads to boil.
Rinse 1 cup of quinoa in a sieve for a minute to clear away bitter coating, add to the pot, turn down to simmer and simmer about 10 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed – careful not to burn. It's best for this recipe to stop simmering just before all the liquid absorbed.
Combine and Brown
Transfer quinoa to a serving pan or a paella pan, and fold in veggies carefully, and then toss in parsley, peas and paprika for color. Stir in a bit more vegetable broth if it seems dry. It should be sticky, so if you were to grab a handful and squeeze, it would stick together. (but don't do that, haha)
Transfer quinoa to a serving pan, and fold in veggies carefully, and then toss in parsley, peas and paprika for color. Put the pan back on the stove, on simmer to the bottom a bit to create a flavorful crust but don't burn it.
Scoop and serve warm!
I am intrigued by the paella pan, but I don't own one so I used a lovely Ballarini mini casserole pan I received as a gift for work as theFeedFeed’s parfait editor. It didn't really give me the crunchy bottom crust I remember from that traditional paella, so next time, I think I will spring for a paella pan.
- I hope you really enjoy my paella recipe, it is so customizable – please let me know on IG or Pin if you make it! Looking forward to hearing your take on the recipe.
Dee Dine is the recipe developer and writer behind Green Smoothie Gourmet. She shares her super healthy wholesome recipes on her blog and her Instagram that she feeds her family and friends. She gravitates toward recipes that are fast to create, plant-based, nutritious, easy, and use familiar ingredients. And chocolate is always a good idea! More about Dee.