Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian Paella

Every time I make this dish, which has become one of my seasonal favorites, people go back for seconds and even thirds.  This dish is a flavor powerhouse and never ceases to impress even non-vegetarians; so after having been asked for the recipe multiple times, I am finally ready to share :)

This recipe leans heavily on Bobby Flay's recipe for Kale and Wild Mushroom Paella, however I have made some changes from my experience in cooking this dish, and to help make it a bit more accessible (read not impossible or overly time-consuming to make).

Things to know before you start.

  1.  It is really important for making any paella, to have a proper paella pan that is wide, round, and shallow.  You want that wide surface area on the bottom of the pan (made with a conductive metal) because you want maximize the amount of rice that touches the bottom of the pan.  My paella pan is from Williams-Sonoma and is a work-horse. 
  2. Choosing the right kind of rice is extremely important.  Ideally, you should use a Spanish short-grain rice called bomba, but in a pinch you can use arborio rice.  This is because you want a rice that not only absorbs liquid and flavor well, but also remains firm.
  3. Make sure you use a great cooking liquid.  Homemade stock is best, but if you choose to purchase stock, make sure that it is a culinary stock (which has a lot more flavor), not a broth.
  4. When you get to a certain point in the recipe, you need to resist the temptation to stir.  I know that can be hard for many, but if you don't heed the warning, you will not create the beautiful socarrat, which is the crispy rice crust that forms on the bottom of the pan and is what makes a paella, so irresistibly delicious and a signature of a well made paella.
  5. Invest in genuine saffron.  I know that it is a luxurious ingredient, but a little goes a long way and imitation saffron is just not worth it.  Saffron threads are the dried stigmas of purple crocus flowers that grow in the Mediterranean, especially in Spain and Greece.  Saffron threads are meticulously gathered by hand, which is why they are so expensive.
  6. Finally, use a good white wine- one that you will drink.  The best wines to use are dry whites that are un-oaked.  The oak in some chardonnays can have a bad reaction to the saffron and kills the beautiful delicate flavor.  This does neither your wine nor the saffron justice.

So know you know the basics, but the most important thing to add to a great paella is passion and love- it comes through in the flavors!  Enjoy!



  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 yellow peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons clover honey
  • ¾ cup canola or safflower oil
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 6 baby artichokes, prepped and halved
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper


  • 4 tablespoons EVOO, plus more as needed
  • 12 ounces of kale, coarsely chopped (locato or baby kale are best; less fiberous)
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed & chopped into paste
  • 1 ¼ pounds mushrooms, trimmed & quartered
  • 1 medium spanish onion, diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup poblano pepper, finely diced
  • 1 ½ cups short-grain Spanish rice, such as Bomba
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups mushroom stock (or vegetable stock in a pinch)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped


  1. To make the yellow pepper saffron sauce, bring vinegar to a gentle simmer and add the saffron.  Turn off the heat and let bloom; cool completely.
  2. In a blender, combine yellow peppers, vinegar (with saffron), garlic, mustard and honey.  Blend for 30 seconds.
  3. With blender running, slowly add EVOO until it is emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. To make fried baby artichokes, heat EVOO in small pan over medium heat until begins to shimmer.  Add the artichokes and cook until they are golden brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and let drain on paper towel; season with salt and pepper.
  5. To make paella, heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in pan over high heat, add kale, turn to coat.  Sauté until kale until it begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.  Add half of the garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.  Remove to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of EVOO in medium paella pan over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until golden brown.  Remove to a plate.
  7. Add more EVOO to pan if needed, then add onion, red & poblano peppers and cook until almost soft, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining garlic.
  8. Stir in the rice and cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the rice is almost translucent.  Add the wine and cook until completely reduced.
  9. Stir in 4 cups of stock, mushrooms, thyme & season with salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally until most of the liquid has evaporated and the rice is al dente.  Stir in kale.
  10. STOP stirring now to allow socarrat to form on bottom and sides, about 5 minutes.
  11. During last few minutes, heat a frying pan with a few tablespoons of EVOO.  Cook 4 sunny-side up eggs and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Top paella with fried eggs, artichokes and chopped parsley.  Drizzle with yellow pepper sauce. Enjoy!
Prepping & Cooking Artichokes

Prepping & Cooking Artichokes