My husband was vegetarian for quite a while, and continued to be vegetarian until about 1 1/2 year ago. While I still ate meat, often I made entrees several times a week that were purely vegetarian. As I got more skillful on creating deep flavors in veggie dishes, we started making them weeknight standards, even after he started eating meat. One of the things I found created an intensely, nearly meaty flavor was smoked paprika.
Smoked paprika isn’t your ordinary paprika, you know the kind you dust over deviled eggs. Your standard store brand paprika is very mild, sort of bland even, and is more suitable to impart color to a dish or use as a garnish. Then you have sweet, bittersweet, hot, and other varieties of paprika. These paprika classifications are traditionally Spanish, as is smoked paprika. Though you can find Israeli, California and other regions producing these types of paprika. Then there is Hungarian Paprika which has its own sets of classifications/grades, ranging from sharp, sweet, half-sweet, delicate, etc.
So, typically smoked paprika is Spanish, which makes sense. Spanish food tends to have a nice smokey flavor profile, especially in its paellas. The nice thing about smoked paprika is it, itself, can come in other flavor profiles, sweet or hot. I typically use sweet smoked paprika and that is what you will most likely find, out and about. The Capsicum annuum peppers are dried slowly over an oak burning fire for several weeks. This results in a very smoky flavor that is build-able and not overwhelming.
I use smoked paprika in all my pork rubs and barbecue sauces when I make them from scratch. When I am cooking veggie entrees, I use it to flavor roasted potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and more. Roasting with smoked paprika imparts a lot of flavor and pumps up the color of the veggies themselves. The addition of it in Black Bean Soup and Potato Soup also, adds a welcome flavor profile, oaky and sweet. Finally, my absolute favorite, is adding it to baked Mac and Cheese with a little nutmeg.
Explore using smoked paprika in your dishes: Chiquilin Smoked Paprika Tin 2.64oz