Vegetarian Paella: Improv Challenge

I may just be in love.  I have eaten this paella almost once a week for the past two months, and I am now a firm believer of the magic of saffron.  When I saw this month’s challenge for Improv, I realized that my vegetarian version of paella fit perfectly, and I needed to share this great recipe ASAP (I blame poor winter lighting on the delay). This paella combines different veggies, chickpeas, and rice that absorb a tomato saffron sauce.  It is a wonderful dish for the end of winter and beginning of spring.  I ate this dish last night with my balcony door open to let in the cool spring breeze.  I am definitely ready for the new, warmer season.  I dream of not having to wear double or triple layers when I leave in the mornings.
This may not be the most traditional paella, but it is wonderful.   If you aren’t vegetarian or love seafood, adding some shrimp or using a seafood stock would be a wonderful idea to have a more traditional paella.  Living further inland now has somewhat limited my seafood consumption (and led to a night spent on the bathroom floor due to a crab cake from a Tex Mex restaurant but that is another story for another day), but I promise this vegetarian paella lives up to its traditional counterpart.
Make sure to check out what everyone else made for this month’s challenge!

Adapted from A Couple Cooks

1/2 tablespoon butter
1 leek, thinly sliced and washed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dried rice
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped
2 cups chickpeas
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
3 cups chicken broth
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/3 cup frozen peas


In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add leek and cook until softened slightly, 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Stir in rice, tomatoes, eggplant, and chickpeas.  Season with smoked paprika, saffron, salt, and pepper.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  After 20 minutes, stir in carrots and frozen peas.  Cover and resume cooking for 10-15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.

Serves 4.

Thanks to our host, Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker– make sure to check out her website!


11 thoughts on “Vegetarian Paella: Improv Challenge

  1. The Ninja Baker says:

    Thank you for your lovely vegetarian paella, Doctor. (Well almost, right?) Seriously, besides the saffron threads, your dish is easy on the household budget and great for health =) Thanks, Karen!

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