I was inspired to make this dish after seeing a beautiful photograph on the cover of a recent Williams Sonoma catalog. The dish pictured was a traditional Spanish seafood paella with lobster and mussels; so I immediately felt the need to recreate as a vegan dish using these mushrooms. I love the fresh summer colors of yellow and blue, and using these incredible lobster mushrooms in place of lobster is a no-brainer. Not only do the mushrooms make this dish cruelty-free; but the mushrooms are way less expensive than lobster, while also being kinder to our planet and saving our oceans by not consuming sea creatures. The mushrooms come dried, and you just need to reconstitute them in boiling water to then cook with your dish. They have a beautiful orange color, and also have the shape and smell of lobster. It’s really incredible how nature designed this beautiful food. Lobster mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, B vitamins, protein, copper, potassium, zinc and selenium. They are also rich in dietary fiber. The compliment of the saffron rice gives an amazing flavor to the dish. The sundried tomatoes add a nice texture, and the peas add in some extra plant protein. Saffron is an expensive ingredient; but you can find good quality saffron online or in stores. A little goes a long way.
In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until softened and slightly browned. Add the rice, crumble in the saffron and cook, stirring, until the grains are well coated for a few minutes. Add the white wine and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Add in the lobster mushrooms and stir. Pour in the broth and stir in the paprika. (Depending on the broth you use, you may need to add pinch of salt if it’s a low sodium broth). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook without stirring until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid, about 20 minutes. While this is cooking, add boiling water to the sundried tomatoes to reconstitute them, and let them soften for about 10 minutes. Drain the sundried tomatoes and add them to the pan at the end of the 20 minutes of cook time for the rice and mushrooms. Heat the peas in a microwave for about 2 minutes. Transfer the entire dish to a serving dish, or serve in the sauté pan or paella pan. Scatter the peas evenly on top and add a few slices of lemon if you wish. This dish is as tasty as it is pretty.