Rice Cooker Vegetable Paella
Updated: Feb 18
A must-try easy, flexible, & delicious vegetarian version of paella, using brown rice and including beans! Such a comfort one-pot meal, absolutely perfect as a vegetarian main dish, but also makes a wonderful side dish. Also, for those trying to serve multiple dietary preferences with one meal, this is ideal!! After cooking, simply add cooked shrimp or chicken to half the batch for those meat-eating family members.
I created this recipe for a one-pot meal to cook in the office for lunch, but paella is traditionally made in a large flat bottom pan on the stovetop. In a large paella pan, it develops a crusty, crispy, caramelized layer of rice on the bottom, that is somewhat duplicated in the bottom of the rice cooker in this recipe. Hopefully, your rice cooker has a nonstick surface, so you can easily scoop up that crusty goodness at the bottom. Don't worry, it's not burnt! See the caramelized flavorful brown bits in this photo -->
The key ingredient in paella is saffron which is a little pricey, but you need only a pinch and it does give the subtle but distinct and delicious flavor to the rice. But if you don't have saffron, you could still make this and add some cajun seasoning and a little tomato paste, and call it jambalaya!
[Note: Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic soup base (see below) gives great flavor, and can be found in local specialty markets or ordered online; but if you don't have it or prefer not to use, then substitute roasted garlic and a little salt.]
Serves 4-6. Enjoy!
2 c. brown rice (uncooked)
4 c. low sodium vegetable stock
1 heaping Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base
1 pinch saffron threads
1 T. apple cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar) - optional
1 t. ground turmeric
1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. black pepper
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 red bell pepper (or 4 mini red/yellow/orange bell peppers), small dice
2 c. torn baby spinach leaves
1 c. diced baby Bella mushrooms
1/2 c. sliced green onions
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 can white (Great northern) beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 bag frozen baby peas, thawed
1. Measure vinegar into small dish. Crush a pinch of saffron into the vinegar and let sit for few minutes. This step is optional but brings out the gorgeous yellow-orange color of the saffron.
2. Into the rice cooker, add brown rice, vegetable stock, Better Than Bouillon, turmeric, pepper, red pepper, shallot, bell peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. Then add the saffron vinegar, and lightly stir to combine rice and vegetables with the spices.
3. Turn on rice cooker per instructions for your model. If there is a brown rice setting, choose that one. Brown rice typically takes longer to cook than white rice, so expect 45-90 minutes, depending on your rice cooker.
4. When the rice cooker signals cooking complete (typically when it switches to the Keep Warm setting), open and check for doneness of rice, al dente is fine. If rice is still a little hard, add a bit more stock and turn rice cooker on again, then recheck for doneness. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed at this point as well. If you think it needs salt or is bland, try adding a touch more Better Than Bouillon instead.
5. Stir in the remaining ingredients: green onion, tomato, peas, and beans. Reset rice cooker to begin cooking again, cook for another 5-10 minutes.
6. Serve immediately or use Keep Warm setting on the rice cooker until ready to serve.