I need a vacation!! Until we can get a real break from life I’ll be making food to take me that takes me away. This Veggie Paella Recipe with artichokes, peppers, and olives takes me to late nights in Barcelona. I enjoyed a glass of sangria and a big squeeze of lemon over our pan of paella to share while Everett bounced his soccer ball around our patio table; we were all so relaxed, peaceful and happy. Not a care in the world.
The idea of veggie paella came to me recently after a meal at our favorite local Spanish tapas restaurant. We shared a big pan of paella with a couple friends and tried a veggie version. I don’t remember what exactly their paella contained, but as I dreamed up this version I knew I wanted a taste of spring along with savory, briny flavors of olives and artichokes.
I’ve been putting off mastering artichokes for several spring seasons now but I’m resisting it this year and have decided to figure out these pokey little green globes. After making this recipe and breaking down each of the four small artichokes into manageable, edible bites before cooking, I think I’ve overcome my artichoke timidity.
And olives!!! Which do you choose when you go to the olive bar? I usually can’t decide so I break the rules and mix up a few of the different flavors, coming up with my own blend of spicy, green, black, and briny bites. Tomatoes, peppers, and spring peas all match perfectly with my olives and artichokes, creating a full flavored vegetarian paella.
I’m hoping this season of long suffering is nearing an end. Before we took Everett in for surgery I remember his birthday being a mile marker of ‘I’m sure it will all be over before mid-May, right?!’ Somedays, when I don’t feel like it is coming to an end, the pain of recovery and instability of trauma, I do remind myself that we are on the other side and have much to be hopeful about.
Each step of our journey with Everett has been so miraculous that I can’t deny God’s good hand in his story and I know that God will continue to lead, guide, and comfort us through the steps of recovery. Still taking it one day, one step at a time and knowing that only with God will I have enough strength and love to make it through.
As my boy turns three later this week I’ll be holding on to the hope that God, as the healer, will heal us all completely from this ordeal. And I’ll be dreaming of Spain, sharing meals like this one and passing the red wine and water around the table in gratitude for the blessings we have.
I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast their souls with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 31-13-14
- 2 large or 4 small artichokes
- 1 lemon divided in half
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads*
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 large bell pepper or 2 small, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 + cups of veggie broth or bone broth
- 1/2 cup fresh peas
- 3/4 cup mixed olives, pitted and halved
Prepare a ice lemon water bath for the cut artichokes so they don't brown (medium bowl of ice water with juices of a half of a lemon inside. Reserve the other half of lemon to serve with the paella). Use a serrated knife (bread knife) to cut off about an inch of the top of the artichoke and about an inch from the stem. Break off the hard leaves from the artichoke at their natural breaking point. Use a parting knife to trim the tough skin off the stem and around the base of the artichoke (where there's still some green from the leaves). Slice the artichoke in half and use a grapefruit spoon or pairing knife to remove the choke (the fuzzy center that you don't eat). Then slice each half into half again so the artichoke is in quarters. You may want to divide it one more time if you're using large artichokes for this. Place sliced artichokes in the lemon water.
Soak saffron threads in 1/3 cup of boiling hot water, covered. Let sit as you cut and prep the veggies.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan. Add onion and bell pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. I like to keep a few of the bell pepper slices in strips (to garnish the dish at the end). Add in artichoke quarters and garlic and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat to low and add in rice. Coat with the oil (adding just a little more if necessary). Add paprika, salt and tomatoes and stir to coat everything with the seasonings.
Add in saffron with its water then add in the broth. Turn the stove back to high heat and bring to a low boil. Turn to a simmer and cover. Cook this for 15 minutes.
Stir in peas and olives and cook until rice is tender, 5-10 minutes, adding more broth if needed (1/2 cup or so).
Serve hot with lemon wedges.
You can make this without saffron, thought that is the traditional spice used. Also, regular paprika can be used instead of smoked paprika.