Healthy Recipe: Easy Home Roasted Veggie Paella

Recipe by Leandra Rouse Photography by Sam Emmons

Paella can seem like an intimidating, even out-of-reach dish reserved for fancy restaurants and faraway places. But this simple home recipe makes the Spanish specialty disappear and turns it into a weeknight meal.

Paella is usually made with a variety of seafood or game, but for this version we are using roasted seasonal vegetables, creating a rich and flavorful dish. The recipe below is easy enough to make on a weeknight, but would also make a special main dish at your next dinner party.

The trick to easy home paella is to augment your boxed vegetable stock with your vegetable peels and stems (aka “scraps”). Boiling the usually discarded ends of carrot, zucchini, and onion skins in stock actually creates a more flavorful base for cooking rice. Any small to medium grain rice will do, but if it’s available at your grocery store, try a Spanish rice like Calasparra. The best vegetable selections are those that are in season and ripe to taste, as they will make the tastiest paella. Try including our umami vegetables—vegetables with great flavor—like eggplant, mushrooms, okra or cauliflower. And don’t skimp on the garlic! In this recipe we roast a whole head of garlic and top the dish with caramelized cloves.

A large shallow cast iron pan helps to get the famous crispy rice bottom. This recipe starts on the stove top and finishes in a 500 degree oven to recreate the effect of an open flame. Make sure the pan you get is wide, shallow and able to transfer from oven to oven.

Serve with a simple side salad or good olives. A vinegar-based hot sauce also makes a great additional topping.

Take advantage!

Ingredients:

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 zucchini, cut into discs, top and tail scraps reserved

1 red pepper, cut lengthwise into strips

Cut off ¼ inch from top to reveal 1 head of garlic, garlic cloves, papery skin and reserved end scraps

½ bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed and tip scraped reserved

1 small eggplant, ends removed and cut into discs

Pinch of saffron

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cups small- or medium-grain rice (prefer Spanish rice such as calasper)

1 cup chickpeas, canned and rinsed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon parsley for garnish

Instructions:

Start by slicing your vegetables and saving scraps like onion ends, garlic tops, zucchini ends, and asparagus tips. Add the vegetable stock to a pot and simmer with all the vegetable scraps for 20 minutes. Then strain, add a pinch of saffron and reserve.

Wrap garlic heads in tin foil and fry with vegetables.

Add chopped vegetables to a baking sheet; Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper; and fried at 400

30 minutes. Flip once as needed until vegetables are golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Increase oven heat to 500 (or as close as your oven will get). and move the rack to the top of the oven. Place the tinfoil garlic bulb in the oven.

In a wide cast iron pan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and the minced onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Next, add the tomato paste and stir to combine. Then add the dry rice and toss evenly with the onions and tomatoes, toasting until the rice is translucent (about one to three minutes). Then add the reserved vegetable stock, chickpeas, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Carefully transfer the pan to the preheated 500 degree oven.

Let it cook at 500 for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid runs off the rice. Carefully remove the hot pan and the roasted garlic bulb from the oven and set on the stove to cool. Unwrap the tinfoil and let the garlic cool before removing the cloves from the paper. Layer the rice evenly with the roasted vegetables and roasted garlic cloves. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

270 calories

7 grams of protein

10 grams of total fat

1 gram of saturated fat

Cholesterol 0 mg

40 grams of carbohydrates

7 grams of fiber

8 grams of total sugars

Added sugars are 1 gram

Sodium 600 mg

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