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Valencia or bomba rice (Recipe: mushroom and asparagus paella) {vegan, gluten-free}


My favorite Thanksgiving feast, ever, was created and served three or four Novembers ago in my little kitchen in Rhode Island.

There was no turkey.

No sweet potatoes. No stuffing, no gravy, no green beans.

Instead, we ate salt cod.

And piquillo peppers and olives and Marcona almonds.

It was the best Thanksgiving dinner, ever... a Spanish Thanksgiving, a feast of more than a dozen tapas, and a beautiful paella made with true bomba (or was it Valencia?) rice.

Bomba, the more rare and costly of the two famous Spanish rices, is a Denominación de Origen round, medium-short grain rice cultivated in the L'Albufera region of Spain. It's difficult to grow and harvest, and has a long maturation cycle, which explain its high cost.

What makes bomba worth the price? Most rice varieties, when they absorb liquid, expand in width, but bomba expands lengthwise, and can absorb three times its volume in liquid. When cooked, the grains remain separate and do not stick together. Because it can absorb so much liquid, it's hard to overcook bomba. If you're new to paella, this is the rice for you.

Bomba rice

(In the photo, left to right: long-grain white rice, bomba, carnaroli.)

Valencia, which is more affordable, is a rice to choose if you're a more experienced cook; it gets softer more quickly, which means that you need to keep an eye on it and measure your liquid carefully.

Chefs in Spain consider bomba the best of the best, but you can substitute Valencia, or the Italian medium-grain arborio or carnaroli rices. Don't use long-grain rice; it can't absorb enough liquid.

Store all white rices in your cupboard, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, for up to 12 months.


Mushroom and asparagus paella

Inspired by Paella! Spectacular Rice Dishes of Spain, this vegan recipe is a dramatic centerpiece to a meatless meal. Serves 6-8.


1/4 tsp crumbled saffron threads
Kosher or sea salt
4 Tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of smoked sweet paprika (pimenton)
6 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade (I used Swanson's Garden Vegetable Broth)
8 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 lb thin asparagus spears, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
4 artichoke hearts (canned or frozen), quartered
3/4 cup dry red or white wine
1-1/2 lb mushrooms (a mix of white, cremini, cepes, etc.), brushed clean, stems trimmed, very coarsely chopped (or, if small, left whole)
1 cup canned chopped tomato (I use Pomi)
3 cups bomba, Valencia or Arborio rice
12 strips piquillo or roasted red pepper, for garnish


In a mortar or miniprocessor, mash to a paste the saffron, 1/4 tsp salt, parsley, garlic and smoked paprika. Heat the broth in a large pot over the lowest heat.

Preheat oven to 400F for gas oven, 450F for electric.

Heat the oil in a 17-18 inch paella pan, or in a shallow casserole of similar size, over 2 burners if necessary. Saute the asparagus and onions over medium heat until softened, then add artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add the mushrooms and tomato, and cook 1-2 minutes. Pour in the wine, and boil away most of the liquid, then stir in the rice and coat well with the pan mixture. Pour in the hot broth and bring to a boil. Add the mashed saffron-parsley-garlic paste, taste for salt (it will likely need a bit), and continue to boil, stirring and rotating the pan occasionally, until the rice is no longer soupy and sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice, about 5 minutes. Arrange red pepper strips like the spokes of a wheel, on top of the rice.

Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the rice is almost al dente, 10 minutes in a gas oven, 15 minutes in electric. Remove to a warm spot, cover with foil, and let sit 5-10 minutes, until the rice is cooked to taste.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Paella a la Valenciana
Chicken paella with slow-roasted tomatoes
Vegetable paella with garlic sauce

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This looks delicious. You should make tortilla for us too!

I've been wanting to try making paella, but all the horror stories I've heard have made me nervous. Thanks for the tip on using bomba rice for first-time paella makers!

The photo is making my mouth water -- here's hoping I win the pan and can recreate it in my own kitchen! I'll have to check out La Tienda and see if I can get some delicious stocking stuffers for my family!

Wow that looks SO good!! I've always wanted to try paella so maybe I'll get the chance.

Thanks for the give away and I'm off to browse that site!

I don’t know on how I stumbled upon this cooking blog., All I know is that I’d better check out the archives for a good read. You might want to check this out my site for uhm…a different “menu.”

Wow -- that recipe sounds great, and even after living in Spain, I knew nothing about the Bomba rice...clearly I need to give that a try! It's been a long time since I tried to make paella...I think it's time to give it another whirl.

I have a paella pan (a size or two smaller than this one), which I use a lot! It doubles as a wok, frittata pan etc. Very useful!

Where are you getting asparagus? My poor old Stop & Shop frozen food selection is limited and a little boring. I should freeze more in the summer. The artichoke and garlic recipe sounds wonderful, I don't think I've ever seen froze artichoke hearts at the store either, will canned ones work?
Happy Thanksgiving - and a peaceful Veterans Day.

What a great giveaway! I've always wanted to make paella. Now I'm off to LaTienda to buy some Bomba rice.

Thanks for the info on Bomba rice. I will definitely look it for it because my experience with Valencia has been less than stellar...leaving me to go time after time to Uncle Ben. P.S. I LUV piquillo peppers.


That's so interesting about the Bomba rice. I know a lot of chefs that use long grain rice in paella because it stays "separate" and doesn't get mushy. I prefer the valencia or arborio. Though after I try bomba, I could very well change my tune.

Now this looks interesting, I will give this a try and hussle up the intereting fixings.

The Mushroom and Asparagus Paella sounds delicious! I will definitely have to give it a try!

We made our first paella using your Valenciana recipe - we added shrimp and chorizo - it was the best! Can't wait to try this one.

Now this is my kind of meal, especially for Thanksgiving. I'm soooo tired of turkey and the same ole foods. I'm going to have to look for Bomba rice. Sounds delicious! Thanks for the inspiring post.


Gorgeous pan. My brother lived in Spain for a while and he makes paella for us once in a very great while. (Not Rand, this is my brother Mark who lives in Utah.) If I was richer I'd buy him this pan. This is the first time I've heard of Bomba rice, very interesting.

We love paella. I also love the story of how paella came about. That is kinda how I learned to cook growing up.

I just bought some saffron because I want to teach myself how to make paella. This post came at a perfect time :)



I've never made paella before but your recipe makes me want to run over to the kitchen and start cooking!

The post looks interesting and sounds delicious. I have never made paella and after reading your post I will have to give it a try.
Thanks also for the info on Bomba rice.

I've been wanting a veggie paella recipe, and this has everything I love in it. I can make this for my vegan friends too, which is often challenging for me, thanks for the great recipe Lydia!

This looks like the perfect pealla recipe to try and thanks for all the great information on Bomba rice. I'm off now to go shopping at La Tienda!

Mmmmm...I'd love to make a proper paella! I've been watching Mario Batali's Spain...on the Road Again and it's been giving me a serious hankering for Spanish food.

Oh my goodness, my husband Jose would love something like this! I am always experimenting, trying to make different foods from other countries, we have friends from Brazil and Central America, so that is a big help-but I have often wondered about Paella and how to make it since he saw it on a tv show not long ago and wanted to try it. Thanks for the great giveaway!

yum, i'm going to try this - hope i win the pan!

i just had a delicious vegetarian paella at socarrat in the chelsea part of NYC - it had baby artichokes in it.

I'm a newcomer to your site, and enjoying it very much. I've often made paella, and hope to try this one.

I love bomba rice!

What a brilliant way to celebrate Thanksgiving! I appreciate the rice tips, as I'm planning to wade into the world of paella, thanks to the inspiration of my friend Rocky. It's so much fun to discover the many varieties of recipes out there, and mushroom and asparagus sounds heavenly!

I love paella and this is a new recipe for me to try. Thanks

Our son & daughter-in-law do up an incredible paella from time to time when we visit. I really have got be do one myself. This looks like a wonderful take on it. Love the idea of the Spanish Thanksgiving!

Oh paella. I love the paella my host mom in granada made me, but I was young an stupid and I never asked for the recipe.

This sounds amazing. It would be great to have more Spanish recipes - like tortilla and other tapas. How about something with octopus? Delish!

I've never actually had, or made, a paella. But this sounds great, so I might have to try it. Can you make it in another pan if you don't have a paella pan? I have all the ingredients except for the mushrooms ... hmmm.

I can't believe that I have name paella. It always looks so good.

I love paella - I've been hooked ever since studying abroad in Spain in college. These days I make a quick paella with instant rice when I need a fix - no time to make authentic paella in law school! If I had a real pan I might give it a whirl when I had free time though :)

This seems very different from the other paellas that I have had in my lifetime, especially because it lacks all of the seafood. It looks delicious and comforting though.

Thanks for the links to La Tienda!

That Paella looks delicious ... thanks for the chance to win.

I would love to try making paella, but I don't have a pan...maybe I will win this one? :)

Thanks for all of the tips about which rice to use in paella. I've heard of Valencia rice but not of Bomba, until now. This mushroom and asparagus paella looks delicious - can't wait to try it!

What a tasty alternative for the vegetarian guests at my Thanksgiving table! Also, the La Tienda site has some beautiful terracotta dishes and a Sangria pitcher that I MUST have!

I don't know if I would be able to forgo my family's traditional Thanksgiving dinner for paella but you sure do make it look tempting!

This sounds like a great New Years party to me! I love the recipe and I'll try it even if I don't win the prize. Love your blog too.

I love the thought of paella for Thanksgiving!! It makes so much sense. And I mean it's paella. A food of the gods!

Sounds great! I've got a big box of Arborio rice sitting in my pantry, waiting to be stirred.

What perfect timing! I'm going to a pot luck tonite and this is the dish I'll be bringing. I've never seen a paella like this before. I've made the more "traditional" kind - with seafood and sausage etc., - but this looks fabulous. Thanks, Lydia!

That looks delicious. Mmmmmm, I think I'll try it sometime this week. (Don't have a paella pan, but I will make do!)
Also will head over to La Tienda's site to browse for Christmas ideas... :)

Ooo...let me win, let me win, let me win...

Isn't it funny how some of our favorite memories of holiday dinners are the least traditional ones, or the ones where things went awry? Your Spanish-style Thanksgiving sounds wonderful---a meal of tapas alone would be just fine with me!

I'll have to try using bomba rice...Have seen some intriguing paella recipes, maybe I'll make that for Thanksgiving! Thanks for the recipe -- now to La Tienda's site...

i've never tried paella, a paella pan could be a good incentive to try!

I have never had paella, but it sounds like something I would really like to try. All this talk of rice and paella makes me miss my friend for Puerto Rico and her wonderful spanish rice!!

This looks great although I have never had Paella. I would love to try it.

I'll do anything for salt cod

Paella is wonderful! It's a frequent birthday dish at my house.

This looks really good! My personal best Thanksgiving was all Mexican food. I loved it.

What a fabulous way to celebrate Thanksgiving! How can I resist a chance to win a paellera and if I'm lucky, this paella will be included?

Bomba rice is terrific not only for Paella. It makes a super rice pudding. Anything made from bomba or arborio rice is pretty much perfect for me.

If you like piquillo peppers, La Tienda has a really delicious fire-roasted pepper from Lodosa. This is the best brand I have tried.

This is a vegan meal that even the most die-hard meat eater would love.
It looks healthy, hearty and satisfying, not to metion very tasty!
I loved the rice lesson too. I do like arborio, but haven't tried bomba yet.

this paella looks fantastic. i have to say - that i often prefer a non-turkey thanksgiving too! i guess i like to break the rules like you do LOL! maybe this would be the perfect thanksgiving meal!

That looks fantastic, and a great alternative to the meat-heavy versions.

What a unique paella. I have really only had the "tradtional" kind.

I love your blog about paella and the different types of rice to try. Having the pan would be fantastic!

I printed this one Lydia. And I am asking MR. Santa for saffron as I've just used the last I have.

I've made a "version" of paella, which can be so versitile. Thanks for the opportunity to win a great pan. I'll be shopping later at La Tienda's web site, I'm sure!

Ooooo....I've been wanting to try paella for a while now. Hope your random generator picks my name!

The first time I ever had paella was living with a host family in France while I was studying in Paris. It was one of my host mom's "go to" dishes and it was love at first taste for me! I have never actually made it myself though, shame on me!

Wow...this looks really good..

That's my kind of Thanksgiving but the rest of my family is very set on the traditional Thanksgiving.

This version of paella looks delicious. I haven't tried paella in a while but I used to make it for my father's birthday. The rice was never particularly succesful -- I'll have to try it with bomba rice.

This looks awesome! I think I"m going to make some this weekend since it's getting so cold here in the midwest :)

Paella is one of my favourite Spanish dishes, I love my paella pan - I brought it back from Spain and don't know how I ever managed without it. I tend to use calesparra rice but will try out Bomba.

i have always wanted to make paella since my trip to Spain! i order it every time i see it on a menu but it's never quite the same...

You ought to draw the winning name out of your paella pan!

I must admit I only have three sorts of rice in my pantry, and none of them (at this point, anyway) are arborio, carnaroli, or bomba. But I still remember the marvellous paella I had in NYC at La Fonda del Sol more years ago than I care to remember.

Wow, my vegetarian niece is going to be so excited when I give her this paelle instead of one of those nasty tofurkeys this Thanksgiving! And how awesome it would be if I had the perfect pan to cook it in!

First visit to your blog which I found through Simply Recipes. I'll definately be reading your archives and returning to visit.

Please add my name to the drawing.


Oooh, paella makes my heart go pitter pat!

How fabulous, I came to see the fabulous picture from tastespotting, discover a new blog and find a chance to win a paella pan!
Today is a good day... I say GOOD DAY!!!

Oh Lydia! I can't believe how delicious this sounds. And what an incredible giveaway and generous discount at La Tienda. I adore sherry vinegar and just as soon as I finish my article today about you and Drop In & Decorate, I'm heading over to La Tienda's site for a little shopping!

sounds yummy! can't wait to try it1 glad i found your site. i've made a paella with green beans, peppers & chick peas....

your photo bring m back to Spain...one of my most favorite times. It looks delicious, and really makes me remember the flavors we enjoyed while there...that summer was not long enough.

Oooh, paella. What a tasty way to clean out your produce drawer! I always try to keep a few staples on hand in case the paella mood hits me; still, I've never had an official paella pan before!

Any wine suggestions for this dish? This brings back memories and smells from a trip that included Barcelona. Fresh Paella was abundant in the markets and each had it's own combination of super fresh ingredients. Thanks for the recipe.

What a wonderful giveaway! Rice is one of my favorite foods, and making paella is one of my favorite things to do with it. My favorite part of the paella is the crispy bottom, the soccarat. Yum.

Growing up in my mother's kitchen, and every Caribbean kitchen I've ever known, there was always one gigantic pot used to cook the pellau, a mixture of rice, peas and some kind of meat. Very similar in idea to Spain's many paellas or arroz con pollo. I love to see how food travels and morphs in different parts of the world, and this recipe looks too good not to try!

I found this recipe from Photograzing -- the photo and description were mouthwatering. I'd love to try this soon!

I love traditional Paella. I can remember my very first authentic paella when I was traveling through Barcelona with a group from my high school after graduation. A very fond memory indeed. It was a little too cool to go to the beach and the hot paella served table side was a warm welcome.

Oh awesome, a meatless paella recipe! I am vegetarian, so I'm definitely very excited to try this one.

Thanks for the great paella recipe!

Yum, paella. Thanks for the link to La Tienda.

This looks great and since I am allergic to shellfish and have always wanted to find an alternative paella recipe. This looks like a winner and am looking forward to trying it. Good to know about the La Tienda site.

Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

I really like the idea of having a non-traditional thanksgivng. I really want to do that, but I'm worried that my friends won't go for that. But you have inspired me to throw caution to the wind!

Thanks for sharing the vegan paella recipe too! Nice to see that twist on such a classic yet adaptable dish.

I made paella once,and I put my shrimp in too soon and it became mushy.It didn't look anywhere near your gorgeous photo!

That looks wonderful!

I don't think I've ever even heard of bomba rice (although I've heard quite a lot about Valencia).

I've never had it, but it looks really tasty!

I would love this pan!!

I love paella and still remember the time when my cousin and I went to Valencia, Spain just to eat "original" Paella Valenciana!! As a newlywed I have been experimenting with different dishes and paella is still on my To Cook list :) Thank you for the paella recipe and tips.

A must try, it would be fun; and something new and different.

Never heard of bomba rice. Always learn new things from your blog :)

paella paella paella paella paella paella! I dream of it. I smell it on the wind! Oh how I long for paella paella paella :D

Wow, this looks fabulous. I can't wait to try it, thanks for the recipe!

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