Ben Cooper's Spanish Vegetarian Paella

Ben Cooper's Spanish Vegetarian Paella

What is in season in September

Aubergine, Beetroot, Blackberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Courgettes, Chicory, Chillies, Cucumber, Damsons, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Mangetout, Marrow, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Peas, Peppers, Plums, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rocket, Runner Beans, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Strawberries, Summer Squash, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms

Spanish Vegetarian Paella

You can serve this as a meal in its own right. Or as pictured, I used it as an accompaniment for a BBQ serving grilled halloumi, prawn, chicken or pork & chorizo kebabs.

Serves 5


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 litre vegetable broth (for ease use stock cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped and minced or crushed
  • 1 large tomato, diced 
  • 300 g paella rice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 100 g fresh or frozen (thawed) peas
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges 


  1. Over a medium to high heat, warm a litre of water and make the vegetable broth. Break up the saffron and add to the broth. When it begins to simmer, give it 1 minute and then lower the heat just to keep it warm. 
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12 inch paella pan (or a similarly sized frying pan) over a medium heat. Once heated, saute the onions and peppers until softened and lightly browned for approximately 3-5 minutes.  
  3. Add the garlic and sauté for a further 1 minute. 
  4. Now add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. 
  5. Turn the heat down to low and gently stir in the rice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan to coat the rice. Cook for 1 minute to lightly toast the rice and incorporate flavours. Stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. 
  6. Slowly pour in the broth, add the thyme and the salt. Do not stir after this point or it will release starches and cause creamier rice. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the broth to a heavy simmer for 1-2 minutes
  7. Now turn the heat down (between medium-low and medium heat) to a mild simmer. You want to see movement in the pan while the broth is cooking down (don't boil though). Simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is al dente. Rotate the pan on the burner 1-2 times during cooking for even heat distribution 
  8. Once the broth is nearly cooked off, you will need to pay close attention to the socarrat forming on the bottom of the pan (the golden rice crust). You will start to hear a snap, crackle, and pop, along with smelling a nutty aroma. This should take 1-2 minutes to form. Stick a fork or spoon straight to the bottom to test if it's forming. (If it smells like it's burning, remove from heat immediately). 
  9. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas to the top of the rice (don't mix in). Cover the pan with foil or lid and let the paella rest for 5-8 minutes. Top with fresh-cut parsley, cracked pepper and place on the side lemon wedges to serve.

Back to blog