Quinoa Vegetable Paella!

This weekend was SUPER rainy and wet… so rainy, in fact, that on Friday when I was driving home from SF, I sat in traffic for TWO HOURS! To put that in context, that’s two hours to travel 35 miles on the highway. Crazy huh? Needless to say, I was really annoyed when I got home and in no mood to cook. But – we had nothing to eat! And I was also in no mood to drive around in the rain to pick up food. So, I decided to suck it up and try out a recipe that I had all the ingredients for already at home – a recipe I found on Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for Quinoa Veggie Paella! I figured if I powered through and made the recipe, that I’d end up being really happy when I was eating it – and I was right🙂 I made a few modifications to the original recipe – so my modified version is below. This was a great, warming, flavorful meal – the perfect cure to a cold, rainy night!


  • 1 onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 4 cloves of garlic)
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa (I only used 1 cup of quinoa and that was more than enough!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (I probably used closer to 1-1.5 tsp)
  • dash cayenne (I used at least 1/8 tsp, or maybe even 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted diced tomatoes for some extra flavor)
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 3/4 – 3 cups vegetable broth (I only needed about 2.5 cups)
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into quarters
  • 3 additional ingredients that I added: A few healthy splashes of lemon juice; salt to taste (you definitely need salt in this dish!), and sliced almonds. I felt like the dish was a little bland without the extra spices and salt. And I added the lemon juice to round out the Spanish flavor profile – which it totally did!

Getting the food prepped… first, the onions and garlic

Then the quinoa and saffron (both from Trader Joe’s – saffron can be a pricey ingredient but at Trader Joe’s it’s not that expensive)

Cutting up the remaining veggies – zucchini and a red pepper

And finally, the rest of the ingredients: veggie broth, artichoke hearts, kidney beans and the diced fire roasted tomatoes!

Now for the Directions

  1. Put the quinoa into a large bowl. Cover with water and stir well to wash the grain. Pour off the water and then repeat the washing process. You may also put the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly.
  2. Sauté onion and garlic in a deep non-stick skillet with a little (2 tsp) extra virgin olive oil until soft.
  3. Add the quinoa and saffron and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add paprika, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and cook covered for 15 minutes.
  5. Place the zucchini on top of the quinoa and re-cover. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until quinoa is done.
  6. Remove the cover, stir in the peas, and cook uncovered until peas are warm and all liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes (mine actually took about 15 minutes).
  7. Season with a few splashes of lemon juice, salt and stir in a few Tbsp of sliced almonds
  8. Arrange the artichoke hearts on the top and serve with a sprinkling of sliced almonds on top

Enjoy! This recipe makes about 6 servings and one serving only has about 290 calories, with 10g Fiber and 13g protein! And now for the pictures. First – toasting the quinoa with the onions and garlic…

Paella is almost done, just simmering away…

Time to eat! This recipe was so good that I’m actually going to have the leftovers tonight for dinner🙂 Thanks Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a really creative veggie paella recipe!


Filed under Picky Cooks (Favorite Recipes)

5 responses to “Quinoa Vegetable Paella!

  1. I know, the rain was crazy huh? I bet this paella was comforting. I love that the recipe uses quinoa. I love quinoa and I feel it’s often overlooked for other grains. You just reminded me to get some more🙂

  2. What an excellent idea! I love quinoa and paella, but have never thought of combining the two before!

  3. This sounds deliciously healthy! I love paella, and will have to try this version.

  4. This looks incredible–I am definitely going to make this one! Thank you for sharing.

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