Fill up on flavor with vegetable paella

Linda Gassenheimer
Tribune News Service

Mushrooms, saffron and sweet smoked paprika flavor this vegetarian paella. Saffron gives the paella its traditional flavor and color. It’s actually the stamen of a type of crocus plant. They’re painstakingly collected and dried, which is why saffron is expensive to buy. You can use turmeric instead in this dish.

The paella calls for Valencia rice, a medium-grain rice grown in the Valencia province of Spain. It’s a soft rice that remains a little firm in the center when cooked. If you only have long-grain rice on hand, you can use it for this recipe. The texture will be different, but the flavor will be fine.

Helpful hints

You can use any type of mushroom.

You can use a skillet if you do not have a paella pan.

You can use any type of grated cheese.


— Prepare all ingredients.

— Make paella.

Shopping List:

To buy: 1 package button mushrooms, 1 package portobello mushrooms, 1 package wild or other mushrooms, 1 container minced garlic, 1 small can sliced sweet pimentos, 1 package Valencia-style or other short-grain rice, 1 package frozen peas, 1 small bottle saffron, bottle smoked paprika, 1 carton reduced-sodium vegetable broth, 1 package shredded manchego cheese and 1 bunch parsley (optional garnish).

Staples: olive oil, onion, salt and black peppercorns.

Mushroom and saffron paella is a hearty vegetarian dish.


Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 2 cups sliced onion
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup portobello mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup wild mushrooms or other, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced canned sweet pimento
  • 2/3 cup Valencia-style or other short-grain rice
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded manchego cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional garnish)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 10-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add onion. Saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute 2 minutes. Add the peas, garlic and pimento. Saute 2 more minutes. Push vegetables to the side and add remaining tablespoon oil to the cleared area and stir in rice. Saute 2 minutes.

Sprinkle on the saffron and smoked paprika. Then add the broth. Stir well and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. The paella is ready when the broth has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Cook a few more minutes if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spread cheese on top, remove from the heat and cover with a lid or foil for 2 minutes to melt the cheese. Sprinkle parsley on top (optional garnish).

Yield 2 servings.

Per serving: 582 calories (24% from fat), 15.7 g fat (10.4 g saturated, 4.2 g monounsaturated), 40 mg cholesterol, 30.1 g protein, 84.9 g carbohydrates, 9.8 g fiber, 535 mg sodium.

— Linda Gassenheimer is the author of over 30 cookbooks, including her newest, “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook.” Listen to Linda on and all major podcast sites. Email her at