Vegetarian Paella Recipe

I like making a Paella for Sunday lunch, maybe it is because when I was a child we used to have this at my grandmother’s house every Sunday. There are many different varieties of Paella, although purists of traditional Paella of Valencia will call all other variations ‘rice dishes’. Even though Paella is usually made with meat or sea food, or a mixture of these, it is perfectly possible to make a very tasty vegetarian or vegan version with a few substitutions.

I sometimes make Paella with just vegetables and artichoke hearts, other times like in this recipe, I use meat-free protein pieces. I use real saffron which they sell here ground to a powder and in sachets of about 100 mg each, which is the equivalent of a few fronds. It is worth using, a little goes a long way. I also create savouriness by using a little yeast extract (Marmite) and miso paste. It makes a big difference in recreating a savouriness that the regular version has.

The concept of a Paella is the opposite of a risotto. It’s best not to stir as it is cooking because this releases starch as the rice grains break, whereas in a risotto you want to stir to release starch as this add to the creaminess. It’s OK to stir gently from time to time but even better if you simply gently shake or nudge the pan. It is best to cook on a gentle to medium simmer.

You don’t need a Paella pan if you’re making it for just two people. A non stick frying pan will do the job. The trick is to have a shallow pan with the rice evenly distributed and with even heat underneath.

Vegetarian Paella Recipe
Yield: 2 Servings
Difficulty: Medium
Cooking time:


Vegetarian alternative to the traditional Spanish paella recipe. The basics remain the same, made in the traditional way with traditional flavours.



  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 150 g meat-free pieces
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 250 ml tinned tomatoes
  • 300 ml water
  • 250 g paella rice
  • 100 mg saffron (4-5 fronds)
  • 1 tsp yeast extract (Marmite)
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5 oz Quorn or seitan
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup tinned tomatoes
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 1¼ cup paella rice (bomba rice)
  • 4-5 saffron fronds
  • 1 tsp yeast extract (Marmite)
  • 1 tsp miso paste
  • 3½ oz frozen peas


  1. Finely dice the green pepper and red pepper and sauté in a large non-stick frying pan or paella pan.
  2. When the peppers are tender finely dice the cloves of garlic and add to the pan.
  3. Add the meat-free pieces and sauté until they start to develop some colour.
  4. Add the water, the tinned tomatoes and the white wine, the yeast extract (Marmite), miso paste, saffron and a good pinch of salt.
  5. When it comes to a simmer add the paella rice, and spread evenly.
  6. Cook on a gentle to medium simmer. The less stirring the better, it is best to gently shake or nudge the pan than to stir.
  7. Add the frozen peas after approximately 10 minutes (optional).
  8. When the rice is soft but still has some bite to it remove from the heat, cover with a lid and put a tea towel on top. Allow rest for about 5 minutes, after this the rice will be soft and ready to serve.


Do not be tempted to stir! If the rice sticks a bit to the bottom it will become crusty and tasty, known as the ‘socarrat’. Adding peas is optional.

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