Vegetable Paella

Growing up in Australia as a vegetarian and training as a vegetarian chef in an Ashram, Emily Shakti Iyer has had the perfect prelude to becoming a chef at Lentil as Anything.“I was first introduced to vegetarian paella with seaweed by Avi Szapiro, my men

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Serves 8


2 tbsp (heaped) wakame seaweed
2½ cups (750 ml) warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
½ red capsicum, cubed
½ yellow capsicum, cubed
½ green capsicum, cubed
1 cup crimini or button mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
1 cup (200 g) Arborio rice
½ cup (125 ml) white wine
2 tomatoes, puréed
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
250 g block unflavoured firm
tofu, cubed
Parsley, chopped, to garnish


1. Soak the wakame seaweed in the warm water until it expands and softens.

2. Place the butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan, wok or paella pan. Add the finely chopped onion and cook on medium heat until soft and brown.

3. Add the capsicum, button mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the capsicum is soft and the mushrooms have browned.

4. Add the arborio rice and sauté until the grains are slightly translucent. Pour in the white wine.

5. Drain the seaweed, keeping the water. Chop the seaweed, then add both the water and the seaweed to
the pan.

6. Mash the tomatoes, or purée in a food processor, then add to the pan along with the tomato paste, soy sauce and a little salt. Taste the liquid and add more salt if needed.

7. Mix well, cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Check occasionally, adding water if necessary to avoid drying out.

8. In a separate pan, brown the tofu cubes in 1 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle the pan lightly with salt before adding the tofu to help prevent the tofu from sticking.

9. Serve the paella, topped with the tofu cubes and garnished with parsley.

Note: For a gluten-free alternative, choose a gluten-free soy sauce. For a vegan version, cook with a dairy-free margarine such as Nuttelex, or use a little extra oil instead of butter.

Recipes extracted from Lentil As Anything: Food, Culture, Community, $54, Ilura Press