Spring Vegetable Quinoa Paella Recipe

A delicious Spanish dish.


2 small carrots
2 small turnips
10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
1/3 cup fresh broad fava beans, shelled
2 very young, fresh artichokes
1 lemon, halved
Scant 2 cups Vegetable Stock (see below)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups spring onions (scallions), cut into fine strips
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Scant 1-1/4 cup quinoa
Scant 1 cup Tomato Sofrito (see below) or passata (puréed canned tomatoes)
1/2 tsp saffron threads, toasted and pounded

Vegetable Stock
1-1/2 cups white turnips, finely diced
4 carrots, finely sliced into strips
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 leeks, well rinsed and finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
1 shallot, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
4 button (white) mushrooms, finely sliced
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
3 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
3 sprigs of dill
6 green cardamom pods
6 coriander seeds
1 clove
1/2 cinnamon stick
4 black peppercorns
6 dried juniper berries

Tomato Sofrito
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into fine strips
1/4 carrot, cut into fine strips
1/4 white part of a leek, cut into fine strips
Scant 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lb. 2 oz. very ripe tomatoes, diced or canned peeled whole plum tomatoes, roughly diced
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper



Step 1: For a moist texture, use a 13-1/2″ paella pan suitable for use on the stove and in the oven. Wash the carrots and turnips, and pat dry in a clean cloth or with paper towels. Cut the stalks off the asparagus. Keep 7 of the asparagus tips whole. Chop the remaining 3 tips into very fine rounds, then set aside in iced water. Blanch the broad (fava) beans in boiling water for 5 seconds, then immediately refresh under cold water; drain. Peel off the remaining tough skins (they should slip off easily). Trim the artichokes, removing any tough outer leaves (if the artichokes are young and tender, you will not need to worry about removing the hairy choke). Run them all over with the cut lemon to prevent oxidation and discolouration. Set aside in water acidulated with lemon juice.

Step 2: Next, preheat the oven to 300°F, and heat the Vegetable Stock (see below), but do not allow to boil.

Step 3: Heat the olive oil in a paella pan over medium heat, and sauté the carrots, turnips, broad (fava) beans, asparagus (except the chopped tips) artichokes and spring onions for 2 minutes. Add the garlic to the centre of the pan and continue cooking until the vegetables are softened and lightly browned.

Step 4: Add the quinoa and sauté until translucent, without allowing it to burn, just as if it were rice for a paella. Add the softiro or passata, and stir with a wooden spatula, scraping the bottom of the paella pan thoroughly. Allow to thicken, then add the paprika. Cook for a few seconds more, taking care that it does not burn. Pour in the hot Vegetable Stock, stir, and bring to a boil. Add the saffron and continue to cook over very high heat. If you have a timer, set to 17 minutes.

Step 5: After 5 minutes, the quinoa rises to the surface. Taste the stock and add a little salt if needed, bearing in mind that the seasonings and flavours will become more pronounced as the liquid reduces.

Step 6: Carefully transfer the paella pan to the oven for 12 minutes. Remove the paella pan from the oven and allow to rest for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the chopped asparagus tips, pat dry with paper towels and sprinkle all over the paella. Serve immediately.

Vegetable Stock

This stock should be adapted according to your chosen paella recipe, but its ingredients will also depend on the season and what is available. The selection of vegetables given here is therefore only a suggestion. Avoid using vegetables that are prone to oxidation and discolouration, such as artichokes, spinach or eggplant. If you are short of time, a good-quality ready-made stock can be substituted, although the results will be different.

Step 1: Put all the ingredients except the spices into a large, deep pan or stockpot, and pour over 12-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low and simmer, covered, for 4 hours. Top up (top off) with more water if needed, and skim off any scum that rises to the surface every 30 minutes.

Step 2: Almost at the end of the cooking time, toast the whole spices in a dry frying pan or skillet over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant, shaking the pan occasionally so that they toast evenly; take care not to allow them to burn. Remove the pan of stock from the heat, for 30 minutes. Carefully strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois, leaving behind the ingredients that have settled on the bottom of the pan to prevent the stock from becoming cloudy; discard the solids. Allow the stock to cool, then chill in the refrigerator, covered, until needed.

Tomato Sofrito

An aromatic, flavoursome mixture cooked in olive oil, sofrito is the first stage of cooking paella. This recipe is for a versatile everyday sofrito and can be used for many other recipes. Sofrito can be frozen in smaller batches to keep on hand ready for use.

Step 1: Heat the oil in a large pan over low heat and gently sauté the onions until starting to soften (do not allow them to colour). Add the shallot and sauté until it is also softened and translucent, then add the garlic and cook until the garlic is opaque. Next, add the bell pepper, carrot and leek, and continue sautéing over low heat until these have softened and disintegrated.

Step 2: When the mixture has thickened, pour in the white wine and use to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits on the bottom with a wooden spatula. When the alcohol has evaporated, add the tomatoes, rosemary and bay leaf. Simmer very gently over very low heat for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and add a pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary.

Step 3: Pass the mixture through a food or vegetable mill over a bowl, then push through a fine-mesh sieve or chinos, pressing it through well. It is not advisable to use a blender or food processor for this process because this incorporates air into the mixture and alters the colour of the sofrito. Taste and add more salt or sugar if needed. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container.

See more recipes from Alberto Herráiz.

Reprinted with permission from Alberto Herráiz’s Paella (2011 Phaidon).