This vegan paella, brimming with mushrooms, artichokes, and quinoa, is a vegan version of the popular Spanish Mediterranean seafood dish. Made plant-based by replacing rice and fish with mushrooms, artichokes, and super healthy quinoa infused with saffron, providing a powerful protein punch! Serve hot or cold!
Vegan Paella with Quinoa
Traditional paella is a popular Spanish dish made of rice, seafood, and exotic spices such as saffron. Pronounced “pie-ay-ah”, this delicious dish is a celebrated standard in Spain.
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 into 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 bomba or arborio 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.
How Does Vegan Paella Taste with Quinoa?
This wonderful dish has all the flavors:
and it fills so very filling with that hefty quinoa.
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 Paella with Quinoa
Quinoa vegan 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 sun dried tomatoes for more flavor.
Then I brown the veggies in a bit of avocado oil and sauteed green onions. 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.
What Do You Need to Make Vegan Paella
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.
You’ll also need raw quinoa, white mushrooms, canned artichokes in water, green onions and parsley. Oh, and feel free to toss in more veggies, including red peppers, celery, cauliflower, chickpeas. It’s all good.
Tips to Make the Best Vegan Paella
My best tip is to first brown up some green onions and chopped garlic in avocado oil, and saute your veggies in that before adding them to your quinoa paella mix. This prep will give the veggies a flavorful crust.
Serve this recipe as a main dish or a side.
I hope you try this easy and delightful recipe!
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Vegan Paella with Mushrooms, Artichokes, and Quinoa
Veggies to Add to Paella
Vegan Paella Quinoa "rice"
- Heat the oil, saute the scallions and garlic until fragrant and soft.Add in the artichokes, mushrooms, and other veggies and stir for a few minutes to heat the veggies and allow for slight browning on edges. Don’t over cook.
- Turn pan off, let the veggies 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 5 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and you see curly tails on the quinoa kernels.Be careful not to burn.
Combine and Brown
- Transfer the cook quinoa to a serving pan or a paella pan, and fold in veggies carefully. 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 on the bottom but don't burn it. I used a plain nonstick skillet but you can use a paella pan made for this - I linked to in above.Scoop and serve warm!
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in biology, immunology and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.