Paella is one of those things you bring out and people are all, WHAT YOU MADE THIS?! Despite its status as a dramatic main course, paella is really easy, fairly quick, and - if you're not beholden to the idea that paella and Lobster Fest are one and the same - cheap. This version, inspired by Mark Bittman's Paella with Tomatoes from the New York Times, is mostly healthy and easy to tweak for vegetarians. —MeghanVK
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stock in a saucepan or (for cheaters like myself) the microwave.
Steam the broccoli and cauliflower until not quite tender. I do this by placing them in a heatproof bowl with a few splashes of water, sprinkling them with salt, covering with a plate, and microwaving at 30-second intervals, but you can also place them in a steamer basket over simmering water for three or four minutes. A knife should be able to pierce the vegetables, but with a bit of resistance. Once steamed, run the vegetables under cold water and set aside.
If using the sausage, chop into 1/2 thick rounds. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet (the same one you'll be using for the rice). Saute the sausage pieces over medium-high heat until browned and a bit crispy, a few minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in that same 12-inch (or larger) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots, season with salt, and cook three to five minutes, until softened. Add the garlic. Stir in the tomato paste, a tiny splash of soy sauce, and the smoked paprika, and cook for one more minute. Add the rice and stir to coat. Let cook for a minute or two and add the warmed broth. Stir to combine.
Tuck the broccoli and cauliflower into the rice. Put the pan in the oven and let roast for 15-20 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is just tender, adding a little liquid if it looks too dry (if using, tuck in the sausage pieces after 10 minutes). Turn off the oven and let the paella sit for 5 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and place over high heat on the stove. Let sit for a few minutes to develop a crust before serving, moving the pan around if necessary to make sure the heat hits the entire bottom of the pan.