Thursday , July 16 2020

Hearth & Home – La Primavera Está Aquí! – Saffron and Spring Onions

By Janae Jean

After the long winter, spring returns on March 20. Fresh and locally-sourced fruits and vegetables will soon be returning to our markets. Spring (or green) onions are some of the earliest fresh spring produce. In fact, spring onion season is celebrated in Spain. From January until April, there arecalçotadafestivals in various Spanish towns. These festivities celebrate the Spanish calçot,a type scallion or spring onion. Since calçots are a Catalan specialty, we use spring onions which are in season in North America.

Spring onions are often overlooked as as a main ingredient and seen as a garnish, yet they are a worthy ingredient to include in a well-balanced diet. They are low in calories (about five calories per medium onion) and offer health benefits, including shrinking fat cells and enhancing immunity. Both of this month’s recipes feature spring onions.

One of the key flavors of Spanish
cuisine is saffron. Saffron is known for being the most expensive spice in the world. It is harvested by hand from the crocus sativus flower. It has been used since ancient times to improve mood, increase libido and aid in weight loss. It is a potent antioxidant and reduces inflammation.

Paella is a popular Spanish dish that may include a wide range of ingredients from vegetables to seafood to meat. The original recipe for Paella Valenciana dates to the early 1800s. It calls for snails and rabbit along with saffron scented rice. Paella is traditionally prepared in a paella pan, which prevents the rice from becoming wet. This recipe does not require a paella pan. Our plant-based variation of paella features vegetables and Soyrizo. Soyrizo is a plant-based version of chorizo, a Spanish spiced sausage.

Rainbow Plant-based Paella

1½ cups vegetable broth*
1 cup Arborio rice
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ medium red onion, peeled and chopped
8 mini sweet peppers, sliced
4 shishito peppers, sliced
4 calçots or spring onions, sliced
6 ounces Soyrizo, prepared
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
12 ounce jar of artichoke hearts in water
1 pinch saffron
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
salt and white pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
Jar of roasted red peppers

In a large pot, mix vegetable broth* and rice. Stir in one teaspoon olive oil. Bring to a boil and let set until rice is tender. This should be 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large cast-iron frying pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Then add garlic, red onion, salt and white pepper. Cook for about two minutes. Then add white mushrooms and prepared Soyrizo and cook for an additional three minutes. Add drained artichoke hearts, mini sweet peppers, shishito peppers, cayenne pepper, saffron and paprika, and cook while stirring for another 90 seconds. Add in pre-cooked rice. Stir in lemon juice. Bake the dish in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and toss in chopped fresh parsley and spring onion. Serve immediately, garnish with roasted red peppers.

*You may use ¾ cup broth and ¾cup medium dry white wine.

Spring Onions with Red Pepper Spread

1 bunch of calçots or spring onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon minced garlic
A pinch of salt
A dash of white pepper
Jar of red pepper spread or Romesco sauce
Jar of roasted red peppers

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Prepare the calçots by trimming the ends. Toss the calçots with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, saffron, salt and white pepper. Broil for about five minutes until the calçots are tender. Serve with red pepper spread or Romesco sauce. Garnish with roasted red peppers.

Food Facts

Janae Jean serves as editor, media coordinator, and podcast co-host for Conscious Community Magazine. She enjoys improvising in the kitchen and creating recipes with her loved ones and is very grateful for their input and assistance. She is also a creative professional and music instructor. Visit or


Photo credit Spencer C. Schluter

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