Arroz con Pollo is a popular Spanish/Latin American one-pot dish of chicken and rice flavored with bell peppers, onions, saffron and, sometimes, olives. My vegan version takes a pass on the pollo, but is just as flavorful and even more wholesome. A vegan, nut-free and gluten-free recipe.
A rice dish I sometimes made in my pre-vegan days was Arroz con Pollo, a deliciously flavored Spanish/Latin American one-pot dish of chicken and rice. Desi loved it immensely, so after becoming a vegan all those years ago, I found a way to make a meatless version that was just as flavorful but more wholesome.
Now, my Arroz sin Pollo has another fan--Jay, who will eat it and ask for seconds, and thirds. It's just that good.
This is an easy recipe to make--foolproof even--and it's one-pot, so its great for a weeknight or for a quick but special weekend meal.
I used part of a vegan chicken loaf made with seitan, like the ones sold for Thanksgiving, that I had in the freezer, cut into 1-inch cubes. I've also used tofu or tempeh and other chicken substitutes in the past. Adding one of these would also make the dish gluten-free, if that's what you want.
Beans--pinto or white--would work too.
A long-grain rice, like basmati or jasmine, works great. The grains hold their shape after cooking (if you follow instructions) and give the dish a really pretty look.
Most recipes use bell peppers, and I used two in my recipe to make it extra colorful--red and green. You can use any other color of bell pepper.
Although not traditional, you could also use carrots or zucchini.
Olives are great in this dish, and I often add them, although I didn't have any this time so I left them out. Instead I added capers, which work really well too.
There are onions too here, and tomato paste, making this a really wholesome dish.
Thyme and oregano are good and necessary. I use a combination of fresh and dry herbs. The dry herbs are good for coating the meat substitute before you brown it in the pan, and fresh works great for adding to the rice. But if you only have one or the other, that's fine.
I also throw in some sage because it adds great smoky flavor. When you veganize a dish, you really want to add in as many layers of complimentary flavor as you can, and the sage really helps.
Garnish the dish with parsley or with sprigs of thyme and/or oregano.
Tamari: to add more depth and richness and umami. Leave out if soy-free.
Saffron: to add amazing, smoky flavor and Spanish flair.
Vegetable stock: not 100 percent necessary but adds another layer of flavor, so would be nice if you can use. Otherwise just use water.
White wine: Again, not necessary, but adds another layer of amazing flavor.
Vegan Arroz con "Pollo" Recipe
Can be Gluten-Free | Nut-Free
Vegan Arroz con 'Pollo', Spanish 'Chicken' and Rice
- Large pot with lid
- 1 lb seitan (or other meat substitute, like tofu, tempeh or beans. Use 2 14-oz cans of beans like pinto or white beans)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce or liquid aminos)
- 2 medium bell peppers (diced in a 1/2-inch cube)
- 1 tsp thyme (1 tbsp if using fresh)
- 1 tsp oregano (1 tbsp if using fresh)
- 4 leaves sage (1/2 tsp dry)
- 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp capers (or 1/4 cup olives or both. Chop olives if using)
- 2 cups basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- A generous pinch of saffron strands
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp parsley (for garnish, optional)
- Toss the chicken substitute (seitan, tofu, tempeh) with the garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cornstarch, salt and ground black pepper. If using beans you can add them directly to the rice, no need for this step and the next.
- In a pot large enough to hold the rice, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the meat substitute in a single layer and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
- To the same pot, add the remaining oil and heat. Add the onions and garlic along with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper and cook for five minutes over medium-low heat until translucent.
- Add the wine, if using, and cook the onions further, stirring a couple of times, until the moisture has evaporated.
- Add the tomato paste to the pot with the tamari or soy sauce and stir well to mix, then add the bell peppers along with the thyme, oregano, sage, paprika and bell peppers. Mix well.
- Add the rice to the pot and stir-fry it for a couple of minutes. Add the capers and saffron and the vegetable stock, if using, or water. Bring everything to a boil over medium-high heat and stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Add salt and pepper.
- Continue to cook the rice until it appears to have absorbed most of the water. Now stir in the reserved "chicken" pieces, cover the pot with a tight lid, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, and cook 20 minutes, undisturbed.
- Let the rice stand another 10 minutes after cooking, then serve. Add parsley or another herb garnish, if you wish, before serving.