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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.


That paella looks great. I will definitely be making that sometime soon.

I have been watching several TV shows for making paella...will I be the lucky one this time?

Just when I thought I had every kitchen gadget, pan and implement. Who knew I needed a paella pan? I've never tried to make a paella, but maybe I should give it a try!

Sarah, yes, canned artichoke hearts will work -- just don't get the marinated ones.

Jenny, I have a funny story about octopus and me. I'll share it one of these days.

Sarah, you can use a shallow frying pan, but not a nonstick pan. Make sure the pan will fit in your oven.

Vita, thanks for the recommendation -- I'll definitely try that brand of piquillo peppers.

Sandra, that's a great idea.

SewSimply, I'm not a wine drinker, but I'd go with a Spanish red wine, of course -- maybe the same wine you use in the dish. Usually what I do when I'm entertaining is to take my recipe to a good wine store, show them the ingredients and the spices I'm going to use, tell them how much I want to spend, and ask them to recommend something.

Wow...that paella looks delicious. Definitely a change from the typical!!

i love paella

I love looking at all the pantries. I would love to try making paella also. I think now I could try with all your great tips and recipes. Thanks!

I have always wanted to try to make paella and I love the combination of flavors that you have in the recipe.

The coupon code is also going to get put to great use because I need to stock up.

It's funny - the first time I ever had paella was at a friend's house in Belgium - so even though I know it's spanish, paella always makes me think of Brussels - theirs had mussels in it (of course).

Wow!! This paella recipe looks awesome. I went to Spain two summers ago and got to experience authentic paella...yum!! I would love to win this pan and make myself some paella at college when I've got the time! Thanks for the opportunity to win. :D

Was checking out tastespotting for vegetarian paella to make for my wife on a Boy Scout thanksgiving campout. The Scouts and leaders will have plenty of Turkey, but no vegetarian option. Thanks for the recipe.

Yum, paella! I haven't yet found paella to beat the delicious curry-flavored paella I had in Puerto Rico years ago.

This dish looks wonderful. I am a vegetarian and often struggle to find dishes that will appeal to my non-vegetarian family and friends. I think this one will do the trick!

Looks fabulous!

i adore your blog. Its always entertaining as well as informative and the recipes are truly exceptional. I like looking into people's pantries too!!
I would love to try to cook paella!! I could certainly use a nice addition of a paella pan to my kitchen! I am going to start gathering the ingredients together to try paella this weekend.

I would love to have one of those pans!! I love to cook different things, and this pan would be a great addtion to my kitchen.

I've never made paella at home before but I'm sure I would if I won the pan!

P.S. I'm lucky enough to live in the town where La Tienda has their retail store & warehouse...how if only I'd drag myself out there to shop!

my daughter just made paella i found it very interesting and can't wait to try it

Paella seems to be a hot topic these days and it would be great to win your giveaway! Thanks for that!

Hey Lydia
If i win you are going to teach me how to use it correctly yes???
almost time to start up the Tagines now!!!

(reading quietly at PP)

Hi Lydia....Bob & I made a paella and we thought it looked so beautiful that we took a photo of it...we used the Bobby Flay recipe that had an aioli sauce over it, have you ever done that? We don't have a paella pan, I think I used a large Calphalon pan that he bought me for my birthday one year..I am sure the "correct" pan would have given a better crust on the bottom.
I've always used the Aborio rice as many other fans have posted, but this Boma rice sounds like a nice try! Thanks as always for the good introduction to something new and exciting!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours..

What a great looking paella Lydia!!! I sure would love a paella pan to make it with!

oh, I am so glad I came to check in! A Paella pan is on my list this year - our friends had us over for dinner a couple months ago, and they did Paella on a BBQ. It was great. I would love to do the same at home!

I loved the paella my host mother made for the family when I was visiting Valencia for a high school trip. I've been hoping to recreate the experience ever since, yum!

I have never had piquillo peppers. I am going to have to look for them to try.

Thanks for your comments, everyone. The giveaway is now ended -- winner will be announced tomorrow afternoon.

I absolutely adore paella!!!
Please consider me I do not own a paella pan.

Paella is my favorite dish to make for company, it's so versatile and smells fabulous as it cooks. Sending a wonderful aroma throughout the house.

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