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Aubergine Orzo Paella

Cooking Method , ,
Difficulty Intermediate
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 30 min Rest Time: 10 min Total Time: 50 mins
Servings 6
Calories 560
Best Season Suitable throughout the year


Paella takes its name from the paellera, the utensil in which it is cooked, a flat round pan with two handles; paella is traditionally eaten from the pan.

We will be using orzo instead of rice. Orzo is rice shaped pasta and a lot easier to cook and can just be as tasty. One key ingredient of a traditional paella is Saffron.

Saffron (Crocus sativa) is a spice that is worth more than its weight in gold. Over the past three decades there has been renewed global interest in saffron cultivation for use in cosmetics, the food industry and for its health benefits, which is why this spice has been coined “Red Gold”.

This dish is the perfect opportunity for my saffron to be used. I just poured hot water and turned it to tea to be used in cooking the orzo.

I also have Aubergine from the garden and we will be using instead of rabbits and chickens keeping the animals unharmed.

Give this recipe a try and feel free to make it your own!

  • Orzo ounces 16
  • Aubergine cups 2
  • Olive oil Drizzle
  • Saffron milligrams 8 (Make saffron tea by steeping saffron in hot water)
  • Sun dried tomato jars 1/8 (Just for garnidh and the oil from the sundried tomato also adds a nice flavor)
  • Vegan Cheese ounces 5 (I used Trader Joe's Vegan Parmesan to add flavor and to make the texture velvety)
  1. Steam and sear Aubergine

    I had some Aubergines from the garden and decided to use them for this dish. Steaming Aubergine is a crucial step to soften eggplant. I used to skip this and i end up with tough eggplants, so make sure you steam them first, strain then start searing for further flavor development. 

    In a heavily oiled cast iron pan, throw in steamed eggplants. season as you turn them. Notice caramelization as you sear, before the eggplant goes too dark deglaze with some liquid, in this case I used Mirin. 

  2. Pour in Orzo and Saffron tea

    Pour your liquid, Saffron tea and vegetable stock, mix thoroughly, put lid on, bring to a boil then turn the heat to low. Stir once in a while to avoid burning the bottom. 

  3. Season to taste and Garnish

    Stir in vegan cheese!!! I found sun dried tomatoes, i stirred them in and seasoned with mushroom seasoning as well. You can finish with some lemons too!


Paellas are a crowd pleaser. Saffron is that distinct flavor that penetrates each grain, in this case penetrated each Orzo. There's a lot of variations and combinations to play with this so keep an open mind and don't be afraid to try something new. 

Stay Mindful in the Kitchen & Everywhere 

Keywords: Paella, Vegan, aubergine, cast iron
Paolo Peralta