In Tampa’s Ybor City sits Florida’s oldest restaurant: Columbia. It was on a visit there that I first tried Paella and feel in love. Paella is a Spanish dish traditionally made with rice, saffron, a variety of meat and shellfish, garlic, onions, peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables. My version removes the meat and fish and uses a blend of pan-seared cauliflower and brussels sprouts instead. A simple one-pot rice dish filled with color and nourishment is only a few of the reasons I love this dish. The main reason is, it’s crazy good!
Mix the herb blend:
In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon dried cilantro, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon ancho chile pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes and set aside.
Ready the dish:
Soak 1 teaspoon saffron threads in 1 cup water. Slice half of a Spanish onion into thin slices, mince 3 garlic cloves, slice 2 cups brussels sprouts, slice 2 cups cauliflower, slice 2 cups cremini mushrooms, and dice 1 red bell pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
Prepare the rice:
In a large skillet melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add 1 cup bomba Spanish rice, 1/2 cup ambrosia rice, and 1/2 cup vermicelli rice and sauté over medium heat until vermicelli is golden brown, stirring frequently.
Slowly stir in the saffron water, 3 cups vegetable broth, 2 cans (14 ounces) fire roasted tomatoes undrained, and the herb blend. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Sear the Vegetables:
While the rice simmers pan sear the vegetables. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large cast iron skillet. When the oil is hot add the cauliflower and Brussel sprouts; sauté for 5-8 minutes until lightly seared.
Stir in the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper over the vegetables. Squeeze the juice from half a lime over the veggies. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened.
Mix the rice and veggies together. Garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges, if desired. Serve immediately.
There are many ways to make paella. If you prefer, you can substitute the Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and mushrooms with a variety of seafood like shrimp, oysters, and calamari rings. Or try a mixed paella that uses chicken, sausage, and shrimp. Oh and if ever in the Florida area look up Columbia locations and try it out. Order the paella and wash it down with the most delicious Sangria you will ever have.– Ella💙
- 1 tablespoon dried cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ancho chile pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup bomba Spanish rice
- 1/2 cup ambrosia rice
- 1/2 cup vermicelli rice
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 cup Spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups brussels sprouts, sliced
- 2 cups cauliflower, sliced
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
- 1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- Lime wedges optional
Combine the herb blend ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Soak the saffron in the water.
In a large skillet, fry the rice in the butter stirring constantly until the vermicelli is golden brown.
Slowly add the saffron water, vegetable broth, tomatoes and herb blend. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover with a tight lid and simmer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large cast iron skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. When hot add the cauliflower and Brussel sprouts; sauté for 5-8 minutes until lightly seared. Stir in the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Sprinkle the salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper over the vegetables. Squeeze in the lime juice. Sauté for another 3-5 minutes or until mushrooms are softened.
Mix the rice and veggies together. Garnish with chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Serve immediately.