Vegetable Paella with Tofu

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on February 1, 2013

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Paella was one of our favorite dishes to eat when we were in Spain.

Spicy, veggie-friendly and hearty – we always felt like you couldn’t really go wrong with that dish.

The only gripe I had was that most veggie paellas didn’t have any protein in them (they were usually just vegetables, rice and tons of spices). So it tasted great, but didn’t fill me up the way a complete meal would.

I had been searching for a great vegetable paella recipe that had a protein component to it for a long time, and finally, I found this recipe from Vegetarian Times.

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It wasn’t quite what I was looking for, so I modified it significantly to increase the complexity of flavors and spices, and to make it a bit healthier than the original recipe. My modified recipe is below, and you can find the original here.

The Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (about 1/4 cup dry)
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron, crumbled
  • 1 tsp olive oil (you can also use grapeseed or canola).
  • 1  7-oz. pkg. spicy marinated tofu, finely diced (I used Trader Joe’s Baked Tofu – see picture below)
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 14-oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 4 oz vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste (don’t skimp on this – it’s critical for seasoning the recipe!)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (you can add a little more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

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The Directions

Step 1: Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu when oil is heated through, season with salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until tofu is browned, stirring occasionally.

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Step 2: Add mushrooms, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release liquid and begin to brown.

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Step 3: Meanwhile, cook your brown rice. Add in saffron at the same time you add the rice to the boiling water. Stir and cook on low – let sit until all water is absorbed. Back to the tofu/mushroom mixture: Stir in carrots, corn, tomatoes, garlic, and all of your spices (including salt & pepper), and sauté 2-5 minutes more.

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Step 4: Stir in rice, and about 4 oz veggie broth. Cover with lid, and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.

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Step 5: Add peas on surface (do not stir yet), cover, and allow peas to steam 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in lemon juice and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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This recipe makes 4 HUGE servings, and each serving has about 250 calories, 10g fat, 34g carbs, 7g fiber, 7.6g sugar, 16g protein.

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The husband and I couldn’t get enough of it! We both went back for seconds, he went back for thirds :) 

We had some for leftovers as well – and it just tasted even better the next day, because the flavors had more time to marinate together. I loved the addition of tofu in this recipe – it made it so much heartier and filling, and using brown rice instead of white rice gave the recipe a whole-grain punch. 

The whole recipe (including cooking/simmering time) took only 1 hour to make – which was great for a weekend dinner. It was like taking a trip back to Spain from our kitchen at home!

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Vegetable Paella with Tofu

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 250

Fat per serving: 10g

Each serving: 250 calories, 10g fat, 34g carbs, 7g fiber, 7.6g sugar, 16g protein.

Ingredients

  • Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (about 1/4 cup dry)
  • 1/8 tsp. saffron, crumbled
  • 1 tsp olive oil (you can also use grapeseed or canola).
  • 1 7-oz. pkg. spicy marinated tofu, finely diced (I used Trader Joe's Baked Tofu)
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 14-oz. can chopped or diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 4 oz vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt & pepper to taste (don’t skimp on this – it’s critical for seasoning the recipe!)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (you can add a little more if you like it spicy)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu when oil is heated through, season with salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until tofu is browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add mushrooms, and sauté 4 to 5 minutes, or until mushrooms release liquid and begin to brown.
  3. Meanwhile, cook your brown rice. Add in saffron at the same time you add the rice to the boiling water. Stir and cook on low - let sit until all water is absorbed. Back to the tofu/mushroom mixture: Stir in carrots, corn, tomatoes, garlic, and all of your spices (including salt & pepper), and sauté 2-5 minutes more.
  4. Stir in rice, and about 4 oz veggie broth. Cover with lid, and simmer 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
  5. Add peas on surface (do not stir yet), cover, and allow peas to steam 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and stir in lemon juice and green onions. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
http://pickyeaterblog.com/vegetable-paella-with-tofu/

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Claudia January 3, 2010 at 5:22 pm

This is so creative – I love the idea of a vegetable paella!

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anjalim January 3, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Glad you like it! :)

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uma February 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

exotic and wholesome.. I can’t wait to try this !

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 5, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thanks Uma! I’m sure you will love this recipe!

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Parita @ myinnershakti February 4, 2013 at 5:06 am

Whenever I see paella on a menu, I always think to myself – I wonder if I can make this into a vegetarian dish. You did all the work for me! I’m definitely making this soon. I think both my meat eating husband and I would enjoy it! Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

Haha you know – that’s exactly what I used to think when I had paella in Spain – because while it was tasty it just wasn’t satisfying enough as a balanced vegetarian dish. I can’t wait to hear how you and your husband like this recipe! Hopefully the tofu is a good meat substitution for him!

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Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings February 4, 2013 at 6:03 am

delish– thanks for sharing!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

Of course! Let me know how it turns out for you Elizabeth!

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Linda | The Urban Mrs February 4, 2013 at 1:38 pm

This is so awesome! I love paella and this comes with very rich, nutritious, and healthy ingredients. Who would have thought of having vegetable paella? Genius!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 5, 2013 at 10:06 am

Thanks so much Linda!! I’m sure you’ll love this dish – there’s no reason why comfort food can’t be both healthy AND satisfying! :)

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Kitchen Queen February 24, 2013 at 7:03 am

What a lovely vegetarian dish! Thank you for sharing!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 24, 2013 at 11:24 am

Anytime! Enjoy! :)

Reply

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