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Meatless Monday: Fresh vegetable paella

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Paella perfection!

If you’ve never made paella (and even if you have), give this version a go! Loaded with healthy veggies that can be mixed and matched to your tastes, this fresh vegetable paella recipe is a perfect Meatless Monday meal!

Vegetarian paella

Paella is a time-honored Spanish dish that is usually made with shellfish. There are many varieties of paella and loads of different recipes out there, but the beauty of the dish is that you can substitute whatever suits your tastes and whatever you have available. Another bonus: There's usually enough for leftovers the next day!

According to Meatless Monday, on average, Americans consume eight ounces of meat per day -- 45 percent more than the USDA recommends. Committing to just one day a week without eating meat as part of your meals can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. What's just one of the many options to a great meat-free meal? Fresh vegetable paella!

Fresh vegetable paella recipe

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
  • 2 cups asparagus, trimmed and cut into short pieces
  • 1 cup green peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch (about 1/2 teaspoon) of saffron threads, optional
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for garnish

Directions:

  1. Using a large sauté pan, add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and sauté until it's translucent. Add the garlic, mix it with the onions and cook for about a minute (be careful not to burn the garlic).
  2. While the onion is cooking, add the vegetable broth to a separate saucepan (add the saffron threads now if you're using them) until it simmers.
  3. Add the rice to the onion mixture and cook for about three minutes. Add the peppers, asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes, and cook for another few minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth to the rice mixture, season with a dash of salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender and almost all the liquid is absorbed. Add in the green peas.
  5. Your paella is ready when all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and cover it, allowing the dish to rest for a few minutes. Serve directly from the pan, garnished with the lemon wedges.

Fresh veggies of your choice don't have to be prepared the same old way. Think of other cultures and countries. This fresh vegetable paella recipe is just one tasty example!

More Meatless Monday recipes to try

Orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe
Baked barley with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions
Pasta with anchovy-walnut sauce

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