Asparagus and Artichoke Paella

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All the saffron-kissed splendor of the Spanish classic, minus the seafood.
asparagus and artichoke paella recipe: two bowls of asparagus and artichoke paella
Cara Mangini/The Vegetable Eater

The flowers are blooming, the weather is warming and spring produce is at peak deliciousness. Now’s the time to incorporate the season’s bounty into every meal possible. Personally, we’d start with the asparagus and artichoke paella from Cara Mangini’s new cookbook, The Vegetable Eater.

“You can make paella, the famous and beloved Spanish-born, saffron-scented rice, at home with all kinds of vegetables,” Mangini writes. “This version is a springtime treat featuring asparagus and artichokes. You can use jarred or frozen artichoke hearts, but fresh baby artichokes are extra delicious when you can procure them. Fava beans or English peas make fine additions, too.”

Don’t worry if you don’t have a special paella pan—all you need is a large skillet. As for ingredients, you can use arborio rice in a pinch if you can’t find Calasparra or bomba. The idea is to use a short-grained rice that will soak up the cooking liquid gradually without turning too soft or sticky. To make it in the off-season, sub the artichokes, asparagus and radishes with four to five cups of any veggies you’re craving.

Excerpted from THE VEGETABLE EATER: The New Playbook for Cooking Vegetarian by Cara Mangini. Workman Publishing © 2024


1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound asparagus, stalks cut into ½-inch pieces, tips intact

12 baby red radishes, halved or quartered, or 6 red radishes, cut into bite-size wedges (heaping 1 cup)

1¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, divided, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

Heaping 1 cup grilled marinated baby artichokes, drained and cut into bite-size pieces (7 to 9 ounces)

½ cup pitted, halved green or kalamata olives

4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

1 medium onion, ¼-inch diced (about 2 cups)

1 medium fennel bulb (12 ounces), cored and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1¼ teaspoons smoked sweet paprika

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1½ cups paella rice (such as Calasparra or bomba)

⅓ cup plus a splash sherry or dry white wine

Scant ½ teaspoon saffron threads

2 bay leaves

½ cup loosely packed, fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and thin stems, finely chopped (or 2 tablespoons minced chives)

Lemon wedges, for serving


1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the asparagus, radishes, ¼ teaspoon salt and a few twists of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Add the artichokes and olives and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus and radishes are crisp-tender and the artichokes and olives are warmed through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the stovetop off the heat.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a gentle simmer and leave it to barely simmer on the lowest setting.

3. Over medium heat, heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in the just-used skillet. Add the onion, fennel and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and become partially golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the smoked paprika until evenly combined, then stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until broken up and evenly incorporated, about 1 minute.

4. Stir in the rice and ½ teaspoon salt and continue stirring to coat and briefly toast the rice, about 1 minute. Carefully add the wine, briefly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Crumble the saffron with your fingers and stir it in. If the wine needs to cook off further, continue to cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more. Carefully pour in the hot stock, add the bay leaves and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Use the spoon to evenly spread out the rice in the pan. Once the stock begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer very gently, without stirring, until much of the stock is absorbed, 13 to 15 minutes.

5. Scatter the reserved vegetables evenly over the top without disturbing the rice. Continue to cook the rice on low heat until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 3 minutes more. (If the rice needs a little more time to cook, cover it with foil and cook for about 2 minutes more.) As soon as the rice is done, turn up the heat to medium and cook, rotating the pan to ensure even heat and prevent burning, to cook off any excess liquid and to lightly brown and crisp (not burn) the rice stuck on the bottom of the pan, another 2 to 7 minutes. You should hear some sizzling as the last of the liquid cooks off and the socarrat forms. This is the prized browned crust at the bottom of the pan. Stop when you can slip a spoon beneath the rice in places and it catches on rice (and before it burns!). Cover the paella with foil and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

6. Uncover the paella, adjust salt to taste and top with the parsley or chives. Serve the paella directly out of the pan with lemon wedges around the edges or on the side.

Nutrition Facts
  • 385 calories

  • 14g fat

  • 59g carbs

  • 8g protein

  • 7g sugars

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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