Take a trip to Spain without the expensive airfare. Enjoy a generous portion of this vegetable and chickpea paella whenever you’re feeling wanderlust for España. This Spanish-inspired paella is the best of two worlds: Spanish and healthy cuisines. The onion, garlic, lemon, paprika and bell pepper pack tons of Mediterranean flavor into this dish. On the other hand, you avoid the excessive oil and seafood the original dish is known for. Recipe and photo from Cooking CROWS: Healthy Cooking with Corn Rice, Oats, and Wheat by Sara Binde. Reprinted by permission.
Spanish Vegetable and Chickpea Paella
- ½ onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 c diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon saffron soaked in ½ c warm water or vegetable broth for 15 minutes, or see Note
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups brown rice soaked in water overnight
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 3 ½ to 4 ½ c water or vegetable broth divided
- 1 cup frozen green peas thawed
- ½ red bell pepper sliced
- 1 lemon cut into eighths
- Preheat a large fry pan to high heat. When the pan is hot, add the onions and garlic. Sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned, around 3 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes to the pan. Stir and heat the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the saffron liquid, spices, rice, and lemon juice and to the pan. Cook and stir for 2 to 3 more minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and 3 cups of liquid to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and allow the ingredients to cook for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the green peas, bring the pan back to a boil then reduce to a simmer again.
- Arrange the bell pepper and lemon slices on top of the rice and slightly press them in.
- If the rice seems to be drying out, add ¼ to ½ cup more liquid. Cover and simmer on low
- for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, check to see if the rice is fully cooked and that the liquid has evaporated. If there’s a lot of liquid in the pan, uncover the paella until the excess moisture has boiled off. If the rice isn’t done, add another ¼ to ½ cup liquid and simmer with a cover until rice is fully cooked.
- When rice is cooked and no excess liquid remains, serve and enjoy!
Note: If you don’t have saffron, you’ll still get a gorgeous yellow color from the turmeric. Though it won’t taste the same without the spice, it’ll still be delicious.
I'm Sara Binde, a health and nutrition coach at Carob Cherub. I lost 70 pounds by eating whole, plant-based foods. I'm passionate about showing the world how to lose weight healthfully. Find more delicious vegan recipes on my website.