This vegan paella is one of those recipe ideas that came to me at random, when I was mopping or folding laundry or doing something completely unrelated to cooking. Paella is something I've always wanted to make for myself, but I was always intimidated by the cooking process because it seemed so exact, not to mention time-consuming. But when I was struck with an idea for a cauliflower rice paella, I knew I was up for the challenge. My vegan paella is definitely not traditional--there's no seafood or grains to speak of--but it's really delicious and easy to make. I started out with some traditional ingredients like bell pepper and tomato, and then improvised by adding pinto beans for protein and riced cauliflower to act as the "rice." Despite the lack of grains, this dish is surprisingly hearty and bursting with fresh flavors. You can serve it with some crusty bread if you like, or keep it grain-free and steam up some veggies as a side. However you choose to enjoy it, I hope you enjoy my inspired dish!
YIELDS 4 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 scallions, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large tomato, quartered
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cans (3 cups) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups cauliflower rice (about 1/2 a head of large cauliflower)
- Juice of lemon
- Marinated olives, for topping (optional)
1. If you purchased whole cauliflower florets, place them in a food processor and pulse a few times until they resemble rice (you may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor). If you purchased pre-riced cauliflower, move on to step 2. 2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet. Add scallions, garlic, and bell pepper and sauté for 3-5 minutes, until onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add water as needed to prevent the vegetables from sticking. Add tomato and saute for another 5 minutes, until it has broken down and released its juices. 3. Add paprika, thyme, salt, and beans to the skillet and stir to combine. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and cauliflower to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes, or until the broth has been absorbed and the "rice" is tender. Take off heat and top with the lemon juice. 4. Serve warm, topped with olives if desired.
Also by Molly: Spinach and Basil Pesto Smashed Potatoes
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Photos: Molly Lansdowne