Orchard Paella – The best vegetarian paella no one knows

A large paella pan is cooking and Orchard paella with some vegetables and snails.

Orchard Paella | Spanish Food | Mediterranean Recipe | One-Pot | Rice Dish | Easy Dinner Recipe | Healthy Recipe | Dairy-Free | Paella | Vegan | Vegetarian | Made in under an hour | Authentic Spanish Cuisine | Murcia | Valencia

The Orchard Paella is something of a mystery for most visitors to Spain. Unlike the authentic paella recipes such as Paella Valenciana or the Paella Marisco, the Orchard Paella can be made with pretty much any locally grown vegetables.

Note: If you’re looking for a tasty vegan or vegetarian option for this recipe, we got you! This recipe is easily adaptable to become vegan-friendly. Just omit the snails of course! 

Serving:

Main for 8

Ready in:

1 Hour

Skill level:

Moderate

Serve with:

Fresh bread & allioli

Orchard Paella Ingredients List

Here’s what we used for this Orchard Paella recipe (serves 8 people);

    • 200 g pack of snails (cleaned and ready to cook)
    • 400 g rice (we used bomba rice)
    • 6 medium-sized artichokes, quartered
    • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 onion, diced fine
    • 1 tomato, grated
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced 
    • 120 ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil
    • 1-liter Vegetable broth (homemade is best)
    • 1 lemon (for garnishing)
    • Salt (for seasoning)

Equipment needed

Here’s the equipment you’ll need to make Orchard Paella recipe (serves 8 people);

  • 1 x 36-inch (91cm) paella pan (serves 8 people)
  • 1 gas ring to suit the paella pan size
  • BBQ gas bottle, regulator, & hose

After living in the Valencia region for almost two years, I thought I’d tried pretty much every paella recipe there was… until I stumbled across the Orchard paella

It was a sunny day in May when we attended a friend’s garden paella party where I was lucky enough to try my very first Orchard paella

The paella was described as a humble mix of ingredients and often referred to as ‘the experiment’, but truth be told, these guys knew what they were doing from the minute they fired up the Paella pan. It was immediately obvious this was a tried and tested recipe they were proud to share! This is the story of the best vegetarian paella that no one knows – the Orchard Paella!

a close up photo of an Orchard Paella

What is an Orchard paella?

The orchard paella is known as the Paella huertana and ‘huertana’ literally translates to ‘Orchard’ or ‘vegetable garden’ in Spanish. In Spain, it is perhaps the lesser-known of all paella recipes and unlikely to grace the menu of the more popular seaside paella restaurants up and down the Mediterranean coast. 

The Orchard Paella is also referred to as the ‘garden’ paella, hinting at the origin of the ingredients used. 

Orchard paella is made using seasonal vegetables (artichokes, green or red pepper, green beans, asparagus, or even eggplant). While most of the time Spain’s ‘garden paella’ is made vegetarian, it is sometimes accompanied by meat such as rabbit. 

In this case, we tried it with snails and the result was mind-blowing! Of course, vegetarians will want to leave the snails off but you can always replace them with mushrooms, or (honestly!) no replacement is really necessary as it will still be tasty and delicious. 

A guinness world record breaking paella is assembed in a large plaza in Vlaencia. An Earthworks machine is stirring the paella with many chefs dotted around the scene

World-record-breaking paella made in Valencia by Galbis Paella Gigantes

What city is most famous for paella?

While paella has firm roots originating from the Valencia region and has even been granted ‘protected cultural status’ by the Valencian Government in 2022 (more about that here), the humble orchard paella actually originates from a neighboring region, Murcia. 

Murcian Orchard Paella – Paella Huertana de Murcia

The regional province of Murcia is well-known for its excellent quality fruit and vegetable harvests and this dish can be found made with rice grown in the Calasparra community of Murcia. Calasparra rice is said to swell up to three times its original size making it perfect for paella and cooked rice recipes. 

Combined with the sweet ripe Murcian vegetables such as artichoke, green long beans, bell pepper, garlic, and onions, and you’ve got yourself a truly delicious vegetarian paella that matches the flavors of better-known paellas such as the Paella Valenciana, or the Paella Marisco.

Easy Paella recipe – the humble orchard paella

Orchard Paella is quite simply a seasonal Spanish Paella that uses whatever has grown in the garden. Ingredients vary from region to region in Spain and there’s no defined authentic recipe for the humble orchard paella, being made with whatever is at hand. 

Stumbling upon this paella recipe is somewhat like taking a walk into a secret garden, where you pull back the palm fronds and follow your nose to a simmering paella pan that’s made with the orchard’s harvest. 

You’ll likely see regular veggies like garlic, tomato, and pepper in the paella pan, as well as a combination of seasonal veggies such as wild artichokes, plus occasionally meats such as rabbit or even snails (Caracoles In Spanish).

How to make paella

Making paella is pretty straightforward as long as you have the right equipment and a little patience. First things first, paella is a social experience and is always best cooked outside in the sunshine. 

Secondly, if you’re serious about making a good paella that serves more than 4 people at a time, invest in a good-sized paella pan and gas ring. Cooking paella in a pot or frying pan in your kitchen simply won’t yield the best results and a frying pan of paella is never going to feed more than 1 or 2 people!

A street scene showing a traditional paella shop selling a rnage of paella pans and cokking items

What size paella pan do I need?

Of course, that depends on how big you want the paella party to be, and there are some outrageously huge paella pans out there in the world that get fired up all over Spain come the start of summer. 

For this recipe, we used a 90cm (36-inch) paella pan

When purchasing a paella pan for the first time, keep in mind that the rice should be only around 1 grain high in the bottom of the pan. This allows for the rice to cook evenly and also offers the best socarrat to scrape from the pan (more on socarrat later!). 

Paella pan size guide:

4 people: 22-inch (56cm) paella pan

6 people: 30-inch (76cm) paella pan

8 people: 36-inch (91cm) paella pan

10 people: 44-inch (111cm) paella pan

What is Spanish socarrat?

The socarrat refers to the caramelized layer of ingredients that sticks to the bottom of a paella pan that requires you to scrape off the gooey goodness. 

Do you want socarrat on your paella? Absolutely! 

How to make paella socorrat? The trick is to know your paella pan and cooking times and make sure the rice to broth ratio is perfect. Too much rice and you’ll have a rice porridge, not enough and you’ll end up burning your paella. 

A large white hesson bag of caclasparra rice sits on a counter next to a paella pan

Best rice for paella

When it comes to rice, there are some serious considerations to make and rules to follow. Before the Paella Police come knocking on your door, it’s perhaps easiest to summarize the rules as follows: 

1# Use Paella rice. 

2# Never stir the rice once it is cooking.

Use special paella rice whenever you make paella. Paella rice is famous for good reason, it swells dramatically and crisps without going hard. Perhaps more famously, paella rice absorbs all the flavors of the broth and other ingredients. 

There are a few types of paella rice most commonly used in Valencia but Bomba rice is the most common. 

In the region of Murcia, Calasparra rice is popular due to its ability to swell up to three times its size. Calasparra rice is commonly used when making authentic Orchard paella although it can be a little tricky to source outside of Spain.

a close up photo of an Orchard Paella

What goes with paella?

 

Paella is a main meal all on its own, and there’s no need. to add anything at all, however, it’s always worthwhile serving your Orchard paella with some sliced fresh bread and some aioli (spelt ‘allioli’ in some regions of Spain).

Aioli and Paella kinda go hand-in-hand, especially throughout the regions of Spain along the Mediterranean coast such as Valencia, Catalonia, and the region of Murcia.

How to make homemade aioli

Aioli is actually pretty easy to make and takes around 10 minutes. We love allioli verde which is a recipe from the Valencia region and you can check out the allioli verde recipe here.

 

Ingredients you’ll need for Allioli Verde

  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

a close up photo of an Orchard Paella

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An orchard paella is cooking in a traditional paella pan

Orchard paella - The best vegetarian paella no one knows

Byron
Orchard paella is a vegetarian Spanish paella recipe that’s stooped in mystery. Check out our step-by-step recipe guide, made in under an hour!
Unlike the authentic paella recipes such as Paella Valenciana or the Paella Marisco, the Orchard Paella can be made with pretty much any locally grown vegetables. If you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian option for this recipe, we got you! Just omit the snails of course!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Resting time 10 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course dinner, lunch, main meal, rice
Cuisine Authentic Spanish recipe, Spain, spanish, vegan, vegetarian
Servings 8 people
Calories 387 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 36-inch (91cm) paella pan (serves 8 people)
  • 1 Gas ring to suit the paella pan size
  • BBQ gas bottle, regulator, & hose

Ingredients

For the Paella

  • 400 g rice we used bomba rice
  • 6 medium-sized artichokes quartered
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 onion diced fine
  • 1 to mato grated
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 120 ml of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1- liter Vegetable broth homemade is best
  • 1 lemon for garnishing
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 200 g pack of snails - optional cleaned and ready to cook

For the aioli verde

  • 1 small garlic clove crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a paella pan and add the tomato, onion, garlic, pepper, artichoke pieces, and beans.
    A large paella pan is frying some onion garlic artichoke pieces and pepper
  • Sauté while stirring frequently, until the onion, garlic, and tomato are soft.
    tomato onion artichoke and garlic are stirred on a large paella pan
  • Add the rice and mix well with the ingredients in the pan. Ensure an even layer of rice is distributed over the paella pan.
    tomato onion artichoke and garlic are stirred on a large paella pan
  • Add the vegetable broth and season to taste.
    Adding vegetable broth to the paella pan and ingredients
  • Heat over high heat until the liquid begins to boil. Allow it to boil for a further 5 minutes, and then reduce the heat to allow it to simmer.
    Spread out the paella ric evenly over the pan turnto high heat and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. Do not stir the paella during this phase.
    A large paella simmers for 15 minutes
  • Once the rice is cooked, cover the paella pan with a lid (parchment paper or kitchen foil also works fine) and let it rest for 7-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with some fresh lemon wedges or serve with some alioli.
    a close up photo of an Orchard Paella

Video

Notes

Aioli and Paella kinda go hand-in-hand, especially throughout the regions of Spain along the Mediterranean coast such as Valencia, Catalonia, and the region of Murcia.

How to make homemade aioli

Aioli is actually pretty easy to make and takes around 10 minutes. We love allioli verde which is a recipe from the Valencia region and you can check out the allioli verde recipe here.
Orchard Paella Nutritional facts

Orchard Paella Nutritional facts

 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 150gCalories: 387kcalCarbohydrates: 54.7gProtein: 9.9gFat: 15.5gSaturated Fat: 2.4gSodium: 498mgPotassium: 607mgFiber: 6.7gSugar: 3.1gCalcium: 72mgIron: 4mg
Keyword aiolo, authentic Spanish cuisine, handmade, Murcia, Orchard paella, paella, rice, vegan, vegetables, vegetarian

Paella Cooking Tips and FAQs

    How long does it take to make a paella?

    • Prep: 20 minutes
    • Cook: 25 minutes
    • Rest : 10 minutes
    • Total time: 55 minutes

    Is Orchard paella easy to make?

    A medium level of skill is required to make a paella. While it’s a one-pot recipe, careful attention to the paella pan heat and ingredients is important. 

    Do I need a paella pan to cook a paella?

    It is highly recommended to use a paella pan when cooking a paella or Spanish rice dish. The main reason is due to the rice must be evenly distributed over the entire pan and must not exceed 1 grain high. 

    Is paella vegetarian?

    • The Orchard paella is commonly prepared with only vegetables and is vegetarian-friendly. 
    • Traditional paellas such as Paella Valenciana and Paella Marisco contain meat and/or seafood and are not suitable for vegetarians. 

    What size paella pan do I need?

    • 4 people: 22-inch (56cm) paella pan
    • 6 people: 30-inch (76cm) paella pan
    • 8 people: 36-inch (91cm) paella pan
    • 10 people: 44-inch (111cm) paella pan

    What rice should I use for Paella?

    Two popular paella rice types are: 

    • Bomba rice (from the Valencian region) 
    • Calasparra rice (from the Region of Murcia)

    Paella rice is different from other rice due to its ability to absorb a lot of moisture or broth quickly causing it to swell. 

    Is paella supposed to be crunchy?

    A perfectly cooked paella will have a small layer of caramelized rice and other ingredients that stick to the bottom of the pan. This crispy layer is called the ‘socarrat’ and is famous throughout Spain. 

    What sauce goes with paella?

    Sofrito is a traditional Spanish sauce that makes the paella. It’s made with onions, garlic, peppers, and grated tomatoes that are fried in olive oil and made into a rich sauce. 

    What to serve with a paella?

    Some fresh bread and some aioli are perfect with any paella. Optionally, a few wedges of lemon.

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