When in Spain…Eat Paella.

With parents living in Spain I’ve eaten a fair bit of paella and I must admit it’s yummy but often very rich and just a bit too much for our tummies. I’m also wheat intolerant and let’s just say that the area of Spain my parents live in is NOT good for special diets. We went out for tapas today and there was nothing suitable for me to eat. So as true Spainish residents my parentals set about cooking up a huge paella feast for us tonight that was family friendly.

Dietitian UK: Paella
Dietitian UK: Paella

Paella for me is full of food memories. A few that stand out in my mind: I’m pretty sure it was mine and my hubby’s (then fiances’) first visit to Spain, it was Christmas and we had the most wonderful paella at a local restaurant in a town called La Cala. That food memory has led to a bit of a Christmas tradition and on quite a few years we have cooked paella over the Christmas season. A notable one being a year when everyone in my family was ill except poor hubby who had to cook it (he isn’t the best cook but did an amazing job – bless him).

Our family version of paella is a celebration of veggies. Think saffron rice, cooked in stock with peppers, whole garlic cloves, mushrooms, pea, carrots and pumpkin seeds. As I’m pregnant so staying away from too much seafood this version just had white fish in.

We tend to make this dish by starting off cooking chorizo or pancetta, onions and garlic in a little oil.Add peppers,, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms, cook till softened. Add  saffron, paprika and rice. Traditionally Spainish short grain rice is used but you can use basmati. Coat the rice in the oil and spices, then add some white wine, when it is bubbling add a good quality stock and stir frequently like a risotto. Add the fish and cover with a lid, let it cook for about 10 minutes. Now add peas and a combination of fresh herbs, allow to cook gently until the rice is ready. Add the seafood at the end of cooking, cover with a lid and it will cook in the steam.

Paella cooked like this at home really is a whole family dish, you can put whatever you like it in, just cook it slowly like you would a risotto and make it your own. What would you add in to a paella? Do you have any paella stories to share?



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