Summer Vegetarian Paella

A seasonal, vegetarian riff on the classic, this paella is a beautiful main course that's the perfect weekend or date-night dinner.

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 2 to 3 servings 1x
  • Category: dinner
  • Cuisine: Spanish



1/2 cup short grain brown rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, minced

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimentón)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

3/4 cup cooked chickpeas (drained/rinsed if using canned)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

½ cup water

1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4" thick slices

1 medium summer squash, cut into 1/4" thick slices

Parsley, for serving

Lemon wedges, for serving


  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the rice. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and, cook for 25 minutes.
  • While the rice is cooking, In a 8″ cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Stir in diced onion and minced garlic, cooking for 4-5 minutes. Next, add 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric; cook for one minute.
  • Next, add the roughly diced tomato, chickpeas, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Give a good stir and cook until tomatoes start to boil, 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the cooked rice and ½ cup of the hot rice water. Finish with the vegetable broth then layer the zucchini/squash on top. Continue to cook until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed; 30 or so minutes. The goal is to leave it cooking for 5 or so minutes longer so the rice on the bottom is crisp. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and lemon juice.


Tips + Tricks: This recipe is specific to using short-grain brown rice. I've found this type of rice doesn't cook well in tomatoes, hence the pre-cooking. If you decide to use a different variety of rice (like the rice traditionally used in paella), don't pre-cook.

Use up leftover ingredients: brown rice, zucchini, chickpeas

Links: Recipe adapted from A Couple Cooks

Keywords: vegetarian paella, summer paella, zucchini recipes