While our version of paella is packed with veggies and plant-based protein, it still retains the saffron-and-tomato-based flavor and color that traditional paella is known for. No need to be intimidated by the ingredient... list — the super simple cooking method makes up for it. You can even use leftoverBrown Rice to cut down the number of steps!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the rice and 2½ cups of broth, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking: In a small pot, combine ¼ cup of water and 1 cup of broth. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add the saffron threads and cover to keep warm.
Heat the olive oil in a wide paella or high-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and brown slightly, then add the garlic, onions, and red bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are slightly wilted. Add the tomato and parsley, and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes have cooked down. Add the spinach and cook until it has wilted, if using fresh, or when thawed, if using frozen.
Stir in the paprika, thyme, cumin, and oregano, and blend well. Add the partially cooked rice, along with any remaining broth, stirring well to coat it with the mixture.
Pour in the saffron-infused broth and bring to a boil. Taste for salt. Add the chickpeas and continue to boil, stirring and rotating the pan occasionally.
When the rice is no longer soupy but there is still liquid left to cook (this should take about 5 minutes), transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes until the rice is almost al dente. Cover the pan with foil and let the paella sit in a warm place for about 10 minutes until the rice is cooked to taste.
If you like to cook your chickpeas from scratch and enjoy a little heat in your food, cook them with a small dried chipotle pepper and a couple of whole cloves of garlic, and use the broth as part of the stock for the paella.