Vegetable paella and what to eat before running a marathon

It’s been a bit quiet on the Peckish Pescy front the last few weeks. By no means have I been less peckish, but I’ve been so busy preparing to take part in the London Marathon (which I am very pleased to say that I completed yesterday in 4 hours and 20 minutes) that I’ve not had an opportunity to write about all of the tasty food I’ve been eating.

Food in the week leading up to a marathon

I did a fair bit of reading about what to eat in the week leading up to a marathon, and across the board, oats, carbohydrates like basmati rice, pasta and sweet potatoes, oily fish and plenty of fruit and vegetables came out on top.

Paella: a penultimate pre-marathon dinner

On Friday, as a penultimate pre-marathon dinner, I decided to make vegetable paella, ticking the carbs and vegetables boxes.

Vegetable paella

Paella, a rice dish which originates from Valencia in Spain, is a meal I associate with holidays and festivals. My favourite memory of eating paella has got to be on a summer holiday to Spain with my best friend from university, Claire, back in 2007. We stayed in a little coastal town called La Pineda in Catalonia and stumbled across a modest and slightly bizarre cafe/restaurant down a side street, with a big TV playing MTV music videos.

At the time, Claire and I were both strict vegetarians so we were delighted to see an interesting looking vegetable paella on the menu. It had all sorts of vegetables in it, including brussel sprouts, which was unusual, but absolutely delicious! I feel hungry just thinking about it!

Paella traditionally contains meats like chicken, rabbit and chorizo, but there are different varieties like seafood paella and more contemporary vegetarian versions.

Vegetable paella recipe

This version of paella is vegan. I love the variety of vibrant colours from the pepper, tomatoes, asparagus and peas. This is a really wholesome dish filled with tasty and healthy ingredients. The fresh taste of the flat leaf parsley brings the dish to life and is complimented by the tarte and zesty lemon juice.

Vegetable paella in a panYou could easily add in other vegetables like carrots, butternut squash and green beans. Or if you fancy making it fishy, you could add in some seafood like prawns and squid.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small red onions (you could use one large onion), finely chopped
  • 150g paella rice (I used Sainsbury’s paella rice)
  • 450ml vegetable stock
  • 400g can/carton of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped into 4cm chunks
  • 3 asparagus spears, sliced into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • A handful of frozen peas
  • A generous handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • Plenty of sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2


1. Drizzle the oil into a large frying pan (ideally you should use a paella dish, but a frying pan does the job) and put it on a medium heat.
2. Add the onion and pepper and fry for five minutes, or until the pepper begins to soften, and then pop in the dried thyme and paprika. Stir for a minute or so and then gradually add the stock, stirring constantly, followed by the tomatoes.
3. Season well and cook for 15 minutes, adding the asparagus slices after 7-8 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally.
4. Pour in the frozen peas and cook for a further five minutes, or until the peas have warmed through.
5. Take the pan off the heat and squeeze over half of the lemon juice. Sprinkle the parsley over the paella and stir through. Season well.
6. Serve in large bowls with the remaining quarters of the lemon and garnish with a piece of parsley.

This recipe has been adapted from BBC Good Food’s easy paella recipe.