There are few dishes as flavor-packed, comforting, and vibrant as paella. This vegan mushroom paella packs a rich punch of flavor thanks to a sofrito base, hearty mushrooms, and artichoke hearts. It's cooked to perfection with lots of tender rice at the center of the skillet and that delectable golden-brown paella crust at the edges.
Course: Bigger Bites, Main Dish, Paella, Rice
Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegan
Servings: 6to 8
1 1/2poundsbutton or cremini mushrooms, baby bella, or a mix of both, stemmed and left whole or quartered (depending on size)
1ouncedried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted and drained(optional)
3tablespoonsolive oil, divided
1tablespoonchopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnishing
1red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1teaspoonsea salt, plus more to taste
1medium red onion, julienned (about 2 cups)
1to 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, depending on desired smokiness
1(14-ounce)can diced tomatoes, undrained
1(14-ounce)can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
2cupsuncooked Arborio rice
4cupslow-sodium vegetable broth
1teaspoonsaffron threads(optional but recommended)
2lemons, halved (for spritzing)
Heat a large (12-inch diameter), well-seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the only the button and cremini mushrooms, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, nudging them around as needed to prevent burning. It will initially seem like the mushrooms will burn but this is about the point when they will release their liquid. Continue cooking until there is just the tiniest amount of mushroom liquid remaining in the pan and the mushrooms have a deep golden-brown glisten to them. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the porcini mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and the parsley. Cook for another 2 minutes, or until the parsley wilts, stirring frequently. Remove from the pan and reserve.
Make the sofrito. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan over medium heat, and add the red bell pepper and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the pepper just starts to become tender, stirring occasionally. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, or until just beginning to soften. Then, add the garlic and paprika and cook for 1 minute to caramelize the garlic. Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for another 4 minutes, or until just beginning to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
Add the artichokes and cook for 2 minutes to soften slightly. Then, add the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute, or until just beginning to turn translucent, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the vegetable broth, water, and saffron threads (if using). Carefully stir to distribute the broth, and let the rice simmer, uncovered and untouched*, for 10 minutes, or until it just begins to absorb the broth. Then, add the cooked mushrooms and gently stir to distribute throughout the rice. Level out the rice and continue to cook for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy and tender.
If the rice hasn't developed a crust (along the bottom and sides of the pan) by the time it's done cooking, increase the heat to high for 30 to 60 seconds, or until you begin to smell the rice toasting at the bottom of the pan.
Remove the pan from the heat, loosely cover with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Season to taste with more sea salt and parsley. Spritz with the lemons.
Serve immediately, ensuring that each portion gets a bit of the rice from the top and center of the pan plus a bit of that flavorful, golden-brown crust from the bottom and sides. Refrigerate leftovers.
*Note: It's tempting to stir throughout cooking, but don't do it! You want the rice at the bottom and sides of the pan to develop a crust (this is the best part).