Springtime Paella, Sub Quinoa
The snowfalls have ceased, the outside air temperature is almost regularly 60 degrees and I’ve spotted artichokes and fava beans at the market. It must be spring! To welcome the season, I’ve put together a vegetarian quinoa paella with all of the familiar flavors and a healthier, lighter twist.
Paella is a saffron-laced dish that originates from coastal eastern Spain. It traditionally utilizes *Bomba rice (also known as Valencia), seafood, rabbit, chicken and snails or any combination thereof. In this remix, I’ve opted for quinoa, a gluten-free grain that cooks quickly and easily absorbs flavors. Newly sprung spring vegetables will celebrate the season. Don’t like quinoa? Stick with rice. Can’t find Bomba? Use a medium grain. But do embrace the vegetables!
Ingredients & Method
- 1 ¼ Cups quinoa
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut in 2 inches pieces, tips reserved
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 12 baby artichokes, leaves removed, trimmed, halved lengthwise**
- 2 pounds fresh fava beans, blanched and peeled
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, quartered
- ¼ cup Mama’s sofrito
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Good pinch of saffron
- Squeeze or two fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chives, chopped, for garnish (optional)
- 3 Tablespoons canola or any neutral oil
In a 13” pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to pan, sprinkle with salt and cook for about 4 minutes, or until mushrooms turn golden brown. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, or until garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in favas, artichokes and asparagus, sprinkle with salt. Add quinoa, Mama’s sofrito and smoked paprika. Stir well, making sure all ingredients are well incorporated and evenly coated with sofrito. Add vegetable stock and saffron. Bring to a boil, reduced heat to a simmer and cover. When almost all of the stock is absorbed, about 16 minutes, add tomatoes. Cover again and cook for an additional 4 minutes or until there is no more stock remaining. Re-season with salt if desired and squeeze of lemon juice.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a small pan, making sure pan is extremely hot, but not smoking. Add asparagus tips and sear on high heat until tips are bright green and achieve some dark spotting, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt and squeeze of lemon juice. Place tips on top of finished paella and garnish with chopped chives.
*Bomba or Valencia rice is a short grain, pearl colored rice that expands up to three times in size across the grain and can absorb up to three times the amount of liquid of regular rice.
**Place peeled and trimmed artichokes in water with lemon juice to prevent oxidation prior to cooking.