When I was in high school, my Spanish teacher required all of his students to participate in a certain number of designated, off-campus “cultural events” each semester. Unfortunately, Señor (as we called him) completely dropped the ball on scheduling these events, and by the end of the year, he had only offered a fraction of the number we were supposed to attend. Obstinately unwilling to waive the requirement and with time running out, he suggested that we have an end-of-the-year party, and if we made and brought a dish from a Spanish-speaking country, he would count that as a cultural experience. At that point in my life, I didn’t have much experience with cooking, so it was with no small amount of trepidation that I undertook the task of making enchiladas from scratch. Much to my surprise, they turned out well and my teacher and classmates devoured them! Granted, the bar wasn’t exactly set very high: one of my classmates purchased cookies from a store and then stuck them in the oven at home, hoping that slightly-burned cookies would give off the impression of being homemade. And no, there was nothing remotely Spanish/Mexican/etc. about the cookies, either. Señor no estaba contento.
Although I received full credit for my enchiladas, had I known how easy this chickpea couscous paella was, I would have opted to make paella instead. This recipe is not the most traditional—it has couscous in place of rice and I’m pretty sure chickpeas aren’t usually involved—but it comes from Bon Appétit, and that’s good enough for me! Couscous cooks much faster than rice, so once you get all vegetables chopped up and ready to go, this paella comes together in no time. Simple to make and full of rich flavor (thank goodness a little bit of saffron goes a long way, right?!), this chickpea couscous paella is just as colorful and visually stunning as its more traditional counterparts. Now that’s an A+ recipe in my book!
A few notes:
The recipe as it appears is vegan (provided that you are using vegan vegetable broth), but we often serve it with chicken sausage, giving it a jambalaya-like feel. Bon Appétit’s original version also included artichoke hearts and lemon wedges on top. I skipped the artichoke hearts because I’m not keen on them, and I used lime wedges because I forgot to buy a lemon but had an extra lime on hand. You do you, you know?
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced onion (about 1 large onion)
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper (about 1 small pepper)
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper (about 1 small pepper)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 large Roma tomatoes (about 10 ounces), diced
- 1 cup peas
- 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup diced carrot (about 1 large carrot)
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
- salt and pepper
- sliced baby bell peppers
- chopped parsley
- lemon or lime wedges
- In a large pot or skillet (12 inches or larger), heat the olive oil for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add the diced onions and bell peppers and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and paprika and sauté for 1 minute. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes, peas, chickpeas, carrot, saffron, and cayenne, and bring to a simmer. Once the liquid simmers, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir the couscous into the mixture, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous, cover, and let it stand for an additional 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish as desired with sliced baby bell peppers, chopped parsley, and lemon or lime wedges.
- Adapted ever so slightly from Bon Appétit (October 1997).
chef mimi says
Thanks! That means a lot, coming from you 🙂
Paella is my FAVORITE! Yum. 🙂
I hope you get a chance to try this sometime. Thanks so much for stopping by!
HomeSweetJones (@HomeSweetJones) says
Yummy yummy! This dish looks gorgeous! The couscous swap makes it totally unique.
Definitely, and SO much faster to prepare!
I wish my husband liked chickpeas because this looks like an awesome meal. Maybe I’ll make it and just eat it by myself for a few days 🙂
I eat chickpeas all the time now, but as a child I hated them, so I can certainly understand your husband’s dislike. I hope you get a chance to try this – it would also make a great lunch (whether at home or at the office), so you could definitely make some and then enjoy it when he’s eating separately!
Mhhh that couscous paella looks so yummy! I love couscous and I love paella, so this has to be good 🙂 I’ll take awesome over authentic anytime!
I agree! It’s always fun to learn about what makes certain dishes authentic, but I don’t necessarily hold myself to those “rules.”
Mmmm, this looks delicious. I love chickpeas and couscous, so the two together is just up my alley!
I hope you get a chance to try this, then – and that you enjoy it as much as we do! Thanks for stopping by!
Megan - The Emotional Baker says
Foreign language classes are the best! My French class made crepes and beignets, such fond memories 🙂 This paella is so gorgeous and I’m sure I’ll try it soon. (That couscous in my cupboard needs to be used!)
Thanks, Megan! I hope you find this to your liking. And oh man…if the French classes at my school had been making crepes and beignets, I would have considered switching languages!
Haha, burning cookies to make them seem homemade… and move over enchiladas, paella is one of my favorite things but it always seems to involved to want to mess with. Loving this chickpea version (including the idea of adding chicken sausage – I would totally do that too!) and how easy it is to put together. Yum!
I completely agree – many traditional paella recipes are so time-consuming and involved! This one is easy enough that even beginning cooks (like I was in high school) can make it. Thanks for stopping by!
It sounds a very interesting mix of flavours and colours! Thanks for being at FF!
It certainly is! Thank you, and thank you for being a host this week!
Paella is one of my favorite dishes. I love your colorful vegan version of the traditional Paella Mara with such healthy ingredients. It definitely is much quicker to make than the rice version. Thank you for bringing it to FF!
Thanks, Suchitra, and thank you for being a host this week! I love that this dish is healthy AND full of flavor. I hope you get a chance to try it!
What a lovely take on Paella. Amazing recipe! 🙂
I’m glad this caught your eye! I missed this recipe when it originally appeared in Bon Appétit (almost two decades ago!), but my uncle shared it with my family a few years ago, and we loved it.
Looks delicious! I love all the vibrant colors. Also, your Spanish teacher sounds like a character:)
Thanks, Lily! My Spanish teacher certainly was/is a character. He terrorized us at times, but he has always been passionate about education!
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
Beautiful dish! I love paella but have never had this version. My daughter teaches French and they have a food day that they all enjoy. A great way to inspire a bit of research too!
That sounds like so much fun to have a French food day in school! Let me know what you think if you try this 🙂
What a lovely dish! We love chickpeas here, and I could definitely see my family liking this. I don’t remember food days from when I was taking a foreign language but my daughter went to Peru this past summer and I know she got to try a lot of things she’d never had before. She loved the street food!
Oh, I have wanted to go to Peru for SUCH a long time! The closest I’ve gotten is eating at a Peruvian restaurant, though. That’s great that your daughter had the chance to go!
Just beautiful! 😀
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
I’ve never made a paella, but you’ve made it look so easy and delicious. I will need to add this to my must-do list!
This version is definitely simple! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
Patty K says
I love how ambitious teachers are in the beginning of the year and then the year catches up to them! I can’t wait to try this by the way. I can just imagine all the tasty spices! YUM!
It happens to even the best teachers, I’m sure! Every group of students is different, so you have to be willing to adapt your expectations as the term progresses. I hope you get a chance to try this paella!
Zeba@Food For The Soul says
This looks so good…I love saffron and love paella. This vegetarian version sounds like a keeper!
Yes, and it’s a great option for when you’ve got lots of veggies to use up! Thanks for stopping by!
Adri Barr Crocetti says
This looks absolutely divine. I was unfamiliar with paella until our niece married a fellow from Spain . Needless to say we are all enjoying it now, and I’ll have to share this with her. I bet she will love it. Thanks!
Ooh, I bet that’s some tasty paella! Thanks so much for stopping by!
This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing at the Wednesday Showcase party.
I hope you get a chance to try it! Thanks for hosting such a fun link party!
Dragons And Fairy Dust says
What a fun day to have at school. Love the look of this recipe, always looking for things to do with chick peas
I’m glad this recipe caught your eye! Let me know what you think if you try it 🙂
Debra C. says
What a beautiful meal, it looks sooo delicious! Dropping by from #FoodieFriDIY to share the love!
Thanks, Debra! And thank you for hosting such a fun link party 🙂
I adore paella and make it quite often, but what a surprise to learn of your blog via write-up in an italian cooking magazine. [Sale e Pepe, Agosto 2016] Congratulations!
Wow, thank you for letting me know – that’s really neat! And welcome! I’m so glad you stopped by.