Vegan Saffron Rice Arame Paella Recipe

A wonderful alternative to traditional paella, and full of flavour. The taste of the sea is achieved not with fish but with arame, a mild tasting sea vegetable. This recipe is made in two stages – so don’t be put off by the length of the recipe. Basically, you make the simple Saffron Rice Pilaf. While that’s simmering you prepare the paella ingredients. Or you can cook the pilaf rice in advance. Whichever method you use, the secret is to get all the ingredients and equipment out first – then go for it!

Some tips: Replace oil with oil spray. Replace store-bought mayo with our reduced-fat quick tofu mayo instead. For an even lower-fat alternative, use plain soya yoghurt, and mix with crushed garlic.

The Saffron Pilaf Rice freezes well, as does the complete dish – the tofu may become a little bit more chewy though. Enjoy!

Vegan Sarrfron Rice Arama Paella Recipe

Category: Dinner & Mains, Recipes

Servings: 4

Vegan Saffron Rice Arame Paella Recipe


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • 450 grams/1 pound/2 cups brown basmati rice OR long grain brown rice
  • ½ teaspoon saffron steeped in 4 tablespoons warm water
  • 840 milliliter/30 fluid ounces vegetable stock
  • 25 grams/1 ounce dried arame (sea vegetable available from health stores), soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1cm/half inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 red peppers, seeded, white pith removed and cut into 1cm/half inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon dried whole chilli, crushed - or use ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest (about one large orange’s worth) - use a grater on small holes or a zester
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes including juice
  • 180 grams/6 ounces smoked tofu, cut into 1 centimeter/half inch cubes - Taifun works well (health food shops or Waitrose). Or use a gluten-free smoked tofu, cubed, fried up and drizzled with gluten-free tamari soya sauce
  • 2 courgettes, halved lengthways and cut into 1cm/half inch slices
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • ¼ cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 225 grams/8 ounces mushrooms, sliced if big, halved if small
  • 4 cups Saffron Basmati Pilaf recipe (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (any variety)
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Start with the Saffron Pilaf. (If you’ve made it in advance, go to number 9!)
  2. In a medium-sized heavy saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in oil over a medium heat until just softened.
  3. Add the cumin, fennel seed, pepper and salt.
  4. Sauté for 1 minute.
  5. Add the rice and stir constantly for about 2 minutes or until the rice smells fragrant.
  6. Add the saffron and water, bring rice to the boil and cover.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed.
  8. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, prepare all vegetables and other ingredients.
  10. Soak the arame in cold water.
  11. Sauté the onions, garlic and peppers in the olive oil in a large heavy pan, until the onions have softened – about 5 minutes.
  12. Add the oregano, chilli flakes, orange zest and cumin seeds.
  13. Stir and sauté for 1 minute.
  14. Drain and rinse the arame when it is ready, then set aside.
  15. Add the tomatoes, smoked tofu, courgettes, arame, capers and black olives.
  16. Put on greens to steam.
  17. Reduce heat under paella to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  18. Add the mushrooms and sauté another minute or 2.
  19. Stir in the pilaf, parsley and salt to taste.
  20. Heat through.
  21. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  22. Drain greens.
  23. Mix vegan mayo and garlic together to make aioli.
  24. To serve: spoon paella in middle of large plate, arrange greens round edges and put a dab of aioli in the middle.

This recipe was republished with permission from Viva! Vegan Recipe Club.

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Vegan Saffron Rice Arame Paella Recipe
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