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Add vegetable broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Break up the saffron and add it to the broth. When it begins to simmer, give it 1 minute, and then lower the heat just to keep it warm.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch Paella Pan (or something similarly sized) over medium heat. Once heated, and the onions and peppers. Sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
Now add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. (if using dried thyme, add it with this step)
Add the rice and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Stir to coat well. Cook for 1 minute to lightly toast the rice and incorporate flavors. Move around occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add the fresh thyme and slowly pour in broth. Add salt and pepper. Do not stir after this point or it will release starches and cause creamier rice. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the broth to a heavy simmer for 1-2 minutes.
Now turn the heat down (between medium-low and medium heat) to a mild simmer. You want to see movement in the pan while the broth is cooking down (don't boil though). Simmer for 15-20 minutes until rice is al dente. Rotate the pan on the burner 1-2 times during cooking for even heat distribution.
Once the broth is nearly cooked off, you will need to pay close attention to the socarrat forming on the bottom of the pan (the golden rice crust). You will start to hear a snap, crackle, and pop, along with smelling a nutty aroma. This should take 1-2 minutes to form. Stick a fork or spoon straight to the bottom to test if it's forming. (If it smells like it's burning, remove from heat immediately) (*see note).
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the peas to the top of the rice (don't mix in). Cover the pan with foil and let the paella rest for 5-8 minutes. Top with fresh-cut parsley, cracked pepper and side with lemon wedges to serve. Enjoy!