I have never made paella before because I always assumed it was a difficult and time-consuming dish. The recipes I have seen for paella call for a lot of ingredients, usually cooked separately, including a large variety of seafood that would require a special trip to the market.
But then I ran across Mark Bittman‘s recipe for paella in his excellent book Food Matters (which is full of easy, adaptable recipes suitable for weeknight cooking). His recipe gets paella on the table in 30 minutes (a little longer if you use brown rice), and while it does call for shrimp, the recipe itself is so adaptable that you can pretty much make it with whatever you have on hand. I omitted the shrimp myself — my husband is allergic — and just made it with chorizo sausage, and it was very tasty. It is probably not terribly authentic, but quick and tasty is more improtant when I’m cooking during the week. Next time we might try it with sausage and mussels. Because the vegetables can be varied depending on what’s in season, this recipe is sure to make it into my regular rotation.
Some notes: Probably the only essential ingredient in paella is rice. I used basmati rice for faster cooking time. If you use brown rice, double the cooking time. Generally, paella calls for saffron, an ingredient I do not keep on hand because of its expense and because I am just not all that fond of it. I used smoked Spanish paprika and the flavor was great. I think you could omit all the meat and have a lovely one-pot vegetarian dish.
Time to make: ~30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
- about 1 lb. of any vegetables that can be roasted, such as tomatoes, carrots, winter squash, mushrooms, zucchini or a mixture, cut into chunks
- salt, pepper and olive oil to taste
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika or other paprika
- 2 chorizo or other sausage links, sliced (optional, or substitute shrimp or mussels)
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 cup peas
- fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Warm the stock in a saucepan. Toss the vegetables with salt, pepper and olive oil.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet with a little olive oil over medium. Add the onion and saute until limp. (You can add other aromatics according to your tastes; garlic or chiles would be nice.)
Stir in the tomato paste, paprika and sausage. Saute, stirring, until the sausage is browned. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute, until translucent. Stir in the stock and peas. If you are using seafood, add it at this point.
Remove the pan from the heat and place the vegetables on top of the rice. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. (If you are using brown rice, increase the cooking time to 30 minutes.) Check frequently and add a little more stock if necessary to keep the rice from drying out. Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh parsley to serve.
Adapted from a recipe in Food Matters by Mark Bittman.