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Good Food/Good Health
Week of February 18, 2008
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Contact: Sarah Wally, (202) 328-7744

Vegetarian Paella

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

Paella (pi-AY-yuh), hailing from Spain, is one of the original one-pot meals. It takes its name from the Valencian word for pan. Historically, Spanish peasants would use the paella pan to cook rice combined with any available leftovers, in effect concentrating their flavors. Although seafood and meat-based paellas are more traditional, this vegetarian version is so moist and flavorful that you will scarcely notice it is meat-free.

In addition to adding color and texture, the vegetables in this dish offer vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting phytochemicals. The peas, which belong to the legume family, possess as much as twice the protein of most other vegetables. They are also a good source of fiber, folate and vitamin C. Red peppers, a concentrated source of vitamins C and A, impart a hint of sweetness to the paella.

The garbanzos (or chickpeas) are native to Asia and have been cultivated for over 8000 years. They are perhaps best known as the foundation of the popular Middle Eastern hummus spread. Chickpeas are a good source of plant-based protein, making them a perfect substitute for those wishing to reduce red meat in their diets. They also contain dietary fiber.

This paella is a marvelous use of leftover veggies, but can also showcase frozen vegetables. Whenever fresh is not available, look to frozen over canned vegetables as an alternative. Most frozen varieties are chilled at the peak of freshness, sealing in the vitamins and minerals. Canned vegetables, on the other hand, can be loaded with excess sodium.

Vegetarian Paella

Vegetarian Paella

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin seed (optional)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. crushed garlic
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
1 cup brown basmati rice, dry
1 cup diced carrots
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, cut into thin strips
Lemon slices (as garnish)

In large saucepan, heat the oil. Add cumin seed and heat for 30 seconds to flavor oil. Sauté onions and garlic for about 1 minute in large sauce pan over medium heat.

Add vegetable stock, salt, pepper and saffron. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and carrots.

Return to a boil then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until rice is tender.

Add garbanzo beans, peas and red peppers to sauce pan and replace lid. Simmer for another 2 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and stir to fluff up rice and distribute vegetables. Garnish with fresh lemon slices and serve.

Makes 7 servings.

Per serving: 230 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 39 g carbohydrate,
7 g protein, 6 g dietary fiber, 380 mg sodium.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

We have contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. Find evidence-based tools and information for lowering cancer risk, including AICR’s Recommendations for Cancer Prevention, at

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