This Spanish Vegan Paella recipe is so easy to make and full of flavor! It's topped with artichokes and European olives that are bursting with flavor and can be made in one pan for easy kitchen cleanup!
What is paella?
Paella is a rice dish that originated in the Spanish city of Valencia. The word "paella" actually translates to "frying pan" in Valencia's regional language.
Although paella is often thought of as a rice and seafood dish, the traditional Valencia paella is made with rabbit and chicken along with green beans. Artichoke hearts and olives are also used as seasonal ingredients.
To make this paella vegan, we'll be using beans instead of meat. Beans are also often added which helps to keep this dish more traditional while being vegan-friendly at the same time.
Best rice for paella
Bomba rice is the traditional rice for paella because it short grain, naturally nonstick, and can absorb 2-3 times its volume of water without bursting or becoming soggy.
In supermarkets you may see it labelled as Paella Rice or Calasparra Rice.
If you can't find Bomba rice, Arborio rice works well in this vegan paella! It's the rice used for risotto but it is short grain like Bomba and more widely available.
This vegan paella only require 12 ingredients (including salt!). Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements.
Chickpeas—used as the "meat" of the dish. Feel free to use your favorite beans! Great Northern Beans and Butter Beans are more widely used in paella if you prefer to make it more traditional.
Saffron—provides a lovely flavor and golden color to the dish. If you can't find it, you can substitute it with turmeric powder.
Saffron can be expensive but I was able to find it for a reasonable price at World Market. You can also find it online.
Olives and artichokes—gives this dish a burst of flavor. I used Manzanilla olives which are plump, green olives from Spain.
How to make vegan paella
This step by step walk-through shows the process of making this one pan vegan paella recipe. Exact times and temperatures are available in the recipe card at the bottom.
Wash and prepare the vegetables. Dice the pepper and trim and quarter the green beans.
Over medium-high heat, cook the green beans and peppers for a few minutes until they start to brown. Add a splash of broth as needed to prevent sticking.
Add the rice and fry for a couple minutes, then add the salt, saffron, paprika, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and stir well to combine for a couple minutes.
Add the broth along with the chickpeas, stir to combine. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to a low boil and cook for it 10 minutes without stirring.
After 10 minutes, add the olives and artichokes to the top (without stirring), then cover with a lid and continue cooking without stirring for another 8-10 minutes.
Keeping the lid on, remove from heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the rice to finish soaking up any last liquid.
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top of the finished vegan paella before serving!
Do not stir the rice once you have added the broth and brought it to a boil. You can stir it in to make sure everything is well combined, but once it starts cooking, leave it alone to do its thing.
Rotate the pan a couple times throughout the cooking process to ensure even cooking. You don't want one side cooking faster than the other and risk burning the rice.
A paella pan is a shallow skillet with sloped sides and two side handles. If you don't have a paella pan you can use a wide skillet (at least 12 inches). Stainless steel is best.
Saffron is used to the infuse the golden color but turmeric can be substituted if needed.
The layer of roasted rice at the bottom of the pan is referred to as socarrat. This crispy rice layer develops on its own if the paella is cooked over a burner or open fire. It adds some texture and flavor to the dish but it can be harder to achieve on an electric stove.
More One Pot Vegan Recipes
Spanish Vegan Paella (One Pot)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup green beans, trimmed and quartered
- 1 cup bomba rice, or arborio rice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch of saffron, about ½ tsp, use turmeric if you don’t have it
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup Manzanilla olives, pitted and sliced
- 1 14-oz can artichokes, drained and quartered
- 1 lemon, optional, sliced for serving
- In a large skillet or paella pan over medium-high heat, cook the green beans and pepper first. Cook for a few minutes until they start to brown. Add a splash of broth as needed to prevent sticking.1 red bell pepper, 1 cup green beans
- Add the rice and fry for a couple minutes, then add the salt, saffron, paprika, tomato paste, diced tomatoes and stir well to combine for a couple minutes.1 cup bomba rice, 1 pinch of saffron, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the broth along with the chickpeas, stir to combine. Bring to boil, then turn down heat to a low boil and cook for it 10 minutes without stirring. Rotate the pan a couple times throughout the cooking process to ensure even cooking.2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 15-oz can chickpeas
- After 10 minutes, add the olives and artichokes to the top, then cover with a lid and continue cooking without stirring for another 8-10 minutes.1 cup Manzanilla olives, 1 14-oz can artichokes
- Keeping the lid on, remove from heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the rice to finish soaking up any last liquid. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over top if desired.1 lemon