Vegan meals aren’t just tofu and meat substitutes; Vegan Paella is the perfect easy meal for Meatless Monday. No weird ingredients, everything that you can pick up at a regular market. The recipe comes to us from Mark Bittman’s book: Dinner for Everyone.
Tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, onion, red bell pepper, tomato paste, garlic, vegetable broth, paprika, and saffron threads. (Those things in the measuring cup on the left are two frozen 1C cubes of homemade veggie stock.) (The only thing missing from this photo is the farro.) If you don’t have saffron threads, no worries. It can be left out from the recipe. Dislike eggplant, but love butternut squash? Make a swap! As long as the ratios are approximate, this is one of the most flexible recipes we make on rotation. Vegan Paella is a perfect clean-out-the-fridge meal!
What is farro, and why should I try it?
There are three varieties of farro, which are ancient wheat grains that originated in Mesopotamia. Italians have been cooking with farro for thousands of years, but it’s gained popularity in the US and can now be found in just about any grocery store.
Farro is an extremely nutritious grain. It’s an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. It’s a much healthier alternative to white rice or other refined grains. One-fourth cup (47 grams) of organic, whole grain emmer farro contains: Calories: 170, Carbs: 34 grams, Fat: 1 gram, Fiber: 5 grams, Protein: 6 grams, Vitamin B3 (niacin): 20% of the RDA, Magnesium: 15% of the RDA, Zinc: 15% of the RDA Iron: 4% of the RDA.
Adding farro to your diet will give you a healthy dose of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B3 (niacin), all of which play important roles in your body. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system and wound healing, as well as breaking down carbs during digestion. Magnesium is needed for strong bones, optimum immunity, healthy nerve and muscle function and keeping your heartbeat regular. Also, it helps regulate blood glucose levels and is linked to improved insulin sensitivity. Vitamin B3 (niacin), along with other B vitamins, helps break down and convert food into energy. It also helps keep your hair, skin and eyes healthy.
Let’s get cooking!
Start by cooking the farro in a saucepan at a low, steady simmer for 30 minutes, covered. The ratio is 2-to-1; 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of farro. When the water has been absorbed, the farro is done. Super easy!
NOTE: You’ll need a large, all-metal skillet for this recipe, because the skillet goes into the oven on high heat at the end. (No plastic handles!)
Sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes, stirring well.
Add the beans, eggplant and red peppers. Continue to stir well.
Once the veggies are browned but still crisp, add the farro into the pan to toast up a bit. The last step is to add the tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, and spices, and place the skillet in a 450º oven for 15 minutes. It will get bubbly and hot, and it’s ready to plate!
I can’t describe how good this was! It’s definitely comfort food, and so good for you! Except for the farro, this dish comes together quickly, so get everything chopped and diced ahead of time. Mise en place.
We definitely recommend Bittman’s 2019 book for anyone who wants to explore interesting twists on traditional recipes, like vegan paella.
The book is uniquely organized because each dish is made three different ways: easy, vegan, and fancy. It’s quickly become a favorite resource on my cookbook shelf!
- 8 ounces tomatoes chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup farro
- 1 medium onion medium dice
- 1 Tbsp fresh garlic minced
- 8 ounces fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 large red bell pepper cored and slices
- 1 small eggplant peeled, chopped into cubes
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste no added sodium
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven to 450º.
- Fill a saucepan with 2 cups of water and set the pan on high heat. When the water is at a rolling boil, add 1 cup of farro, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. When all the water has absorbed, remove from heat. (20-30 minutes.)
- Prep/chop all the vegetables.
- Put 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large all-metal skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. (3-5 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl.
- In the same hot skillet, add green beans, red pepper, and eggplant. Stir occasionally, until browned in spots, but still crisp. (5-10 minutes.) Transfer to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Add the farro to the pan and stir until toasted; about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, paprika, saffron and freshly ground pepper and stir until fragrant, (about 1 minute.) Add 2C vegetable stock, stir to combine.
- Scatter the browned vegetables on top, followed by the chopped tomatoes, and put the skillet in the 450º oven to cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.
- Plate and serve!