Packed with colorful vegetables and using traditional paella Bomba rice that gets crisp on the bottom, Summer Vegetable Paella is simple enough for a weeknight but is a show-stopper to serve to guests.
For the first time ever, our little container / backyard garden seems to have hit its stride and we’ve had homegrown tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants, and okra in abundance. It only took 10 years of trial-and-error. 😉
The abundance of summer vegetables means I’m looking for lots of new ways to use them, and this vegetarian paella has been a favorite. It’s worth tracking down Bomba rice (I bought it on Amazon) which will hold its shape as it cooks to tender and gives you the crisp bottom of a classic paella.
What You’ll Love About Paella
Paella is a quintessential one-pan dish. It’s a beautiful main dish to set out at the table and leaves very few dishes to clean up. Bonus that this version is vegetarian and gluten-free, so it’s a great meal to satisfy just about any diet needs.
This recipe is:
- Packed with Vegetables
- Great with a fresh green salad
What is Paella
Paella is a Spanish rice dish with a yellow hue that comes from saffron. It is baked in the oven and finished on the stovetop to crisp up the rice that comes in contact with the bottom of the pan. While paella is most commonly and traditionally made with seafood, it’s great with just about any combination of proteins and vegetables.
- Bomba Rice – For the right consistency of rice that holds its shape, cooks to tender, and is crisp on the bottom, you need to get Bomba rice. (Here’s that Amazon link for the one I buy.)
- Vegetable Stock – If you don’t need this to be strictly vegetarian, chicken stock works just fine too.
- White Wine – A bit of white wine adds flavor to the dish. If you prefer to skip it, just use some additional stock in its place.
- Chickpeas / Garbanzo Beans – I like to include these to build protein into this vegetarian main dish, but you can skip them if you’d like and / or if you’re serving another protein on the side.
- Saffron Threads – Look for these bright yellow-orange strands in small jars near the other spices. A little goes a long way – you’ll just need a pinch.
- Smoked Paprika – Use smoked paprika to add a fragrant, smoky flavor to the dish. If you just have regular paprika on-hand, it will work just fine but won’t add quite as much flavor.
- Bell Pepper, Zucchini, Yellow Onion, Garlic, Tomato – You can mix and match the vegetables here, but I love the variety of color and flavor from this combination.
- Fresh Herbs and Lemon Wedges – Don’t skip these – they help to brighten the other flavors in the dish.
More Vegetarian Main Dishes
- Black Bean and Quinoa Veggie Burgers
- Sesame Vegetable Noodles
- Black Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas
- Creamy Cauliflower Baked Ziti
- Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta
- Roasted Cauliflower Tacos
Summer Vegetable Paella
- Large Oven Safe Skillet or Dutch Oven
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock, divided
- Pinch Saffron Threads (about 1/8 tsp)
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 lb Zucchini, diced (can use yellow summer squash or a combination of the two)
- 1 cup diced Yellow Onion
- 1 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt (see note)
- 2 cloves Garlic, diced
- 2 cups Bomba Rice, uncooked
- 1 cup diced Fresh Tomato
- 1 15 oz can Chickpeas / Garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup White Wine (preferably a dry variety)
- Chopped Fresh Herbs, for garnish (basil or parsley)
- Lemon Wedges, for serving
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 204°C.
- Bring stock to a simmer in a saucepan. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low-medium so that the stock stays warm but is not simmering. Stir in saffron.
- Meanwhile, heat a large oven-safe skillet (use one that is about 12 inches wide) over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add bell pepper with a pinch of kosher salt. Saute pepper until tender and slightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer pepper to a bowl and return skillet to heat.
- To heated skillet, add 2 Tbsp olive oil. When it begins to shimmer, add zucchini with a pinch of salt. Saute until deep golden brown and tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add zucchini to bowl with bell pepper. Return skillet to heat.
- Reduce heat under skillet to low-medium. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add onion and saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in paprika, salt, and garlic. Saute for 1 minute more.
- Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until coated in onion mixture and lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
- Pour warm stock over rice. Stir in tomato, chickpeas, reserved vegetables, and wine. Bring to a simmer.
- Transfer skillet to oven. Bake, uncovered, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 35 minutes.
- When rice is tender, transfer skillet to stovetop over medium-low heat (be very careful - the skillet will be extremely hot). Cook rice, without stirring, until the rice smells nutty and you can hear it crackling on the bottom, 6 to 8 minutes. (This step crisps up the rice on the bottom of the pan and gives the dish lots of texture.)
- Remove skillet from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
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