Happy Hump Day everyone!
After two weeks of traveling and several crazy busy weeks without making any blog posts…I’m SO excited to bring you all this recipe!
Every time I go to Europe, I make sure to get my hands on saffron. I just spent two weeks in Greece on my honeymoon, so this was a perfect opportunity!
If you aren’t familiar with saffron, it’s a very special spice popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Spanish cuisine. It’s so special, in fact, that it happens to be the most expensive spice in the world! Don’t be too scared, though, you only need a tiny tiny bit when cooking (just a pinch, for real).
Saffron is so expensive because it is actually the stamen of the saffron crocus flower, which is only grown in a few parts of the world, and can only be harvested one week a year! Oh and by the way it has to be hand picked from each flower! Makes sense now right?
To maximize flavor I have heard of people grinding it, but honestly any time I have ever cooked with it, I just keep it whole and introduce it to the dish while sautéing my garlic and onions to sweat out the flavor. You can always find saffron in grocery stores, but it can cost you anywhere from $10 to $15 for just a few teaspoons worth. Trader Joes sells a decent quality saffron cheaper for a decent price, and of course you can find it online as well.
If you happen to be traveling to Europe, India, or the Middle East, be sure to snag some while you’re there if you want to get the best quality at a better price. As I said before, you don’t need to use a large amount at a time, so don’t let the price dishearten you!
Back to the paella! I love love love paella, which is typically made with rice, vegetables, a combination of seafood, chicken, and sausage, and seasoned with saffron, broth, and sometimes wine. I wanted to try to make this as nutritious as possible so this version was a little risky…brown rice instead of white, and marinated tofu instead of sausage! Of course using vegan sausage would probably save a little time and make this seem even more authentic, but the tofu is just so much healthier I had to try it.
If making your own tofu chorizo, I HIGHLY recommend freezing the tofu ahead. It gives it a much “meatier” texture. Now I keep a package in the freezer at all times!
In the end, I’m really pleased with the result and think I’ll definitely be making this again!
- 2.5 cups brown rice dry
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 bell peppers I used one red, one green
- 1 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes
- 6.5 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts ingredient and quantity optional
- 1 small jar green olives ingredient and quantity optional
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp paprika smoked or regular
- 1 pinch saffron approx 2 tsp
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro for serving
- 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil for sautéing
For the tofu "chorizo" (OR buy vegan sausage or chorizo and skip this step)
- 1 package Extra firm tofu ideally previously frozen
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 cup veggie broth
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees
- If making your own tofu "chorizo" begin marinading it now! See recipe below
- Heat a cast iron or oven safe skillet on medium heat. While the pan is heating up chop up the veggies! When the pan is hot, add 1-2 tbsp of oil and saute the onions until fragrant and translucent, then add the garlic and spices and saute until fragrant. (if you don't have an oven safe pan, you'll just have to transfer the ingredients to a baking dish later to bake)
- Add the remaining vegetables, diced tomatoes, rice, tofu (or vegan sausage) and vegetable broth to the pan and stir to combine
- Place the pan in the oven and bake until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, approx 20 min. If you aren't sure that it's done, give it a stir. If there's still liquid on the bottom, leave it in a few more minutes and check again. The rice will be golden and soft when ready!
- That's it! Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving. Optionally sprinkle on some fresh chopped cilantro and some fresh squeezed lemon
- I highly recommend freezing your tofu ahead for this! As soon as you buy it, throw it right in the freezer! After thawing, make sure you press it between some kitchen towels to squeeze out the extra liquid!
- Combine the soy sauce, veggie broth, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and spices
- Tear up the tofu into bite sized pieces and let sit in the marinade while you prep your veggies
I hope you enjoy! Drop a comment below for your paella thoughts and tips, I would love to hear them! If you like my recipes, be sure to subscribe and follow me on instagram (@chrissygoeshippy – link on home page!)