Paella is one of my favorite dishes to prepare at home – like fried rice or risotto, it’s an excellent way to clean out the vegetable bin. Moreover, it’s one of my favorite examples how the judicious use of white rice can in fact be very health-promoting; while rice gets a bum rap for being fairly devoid of nutrients, I think it’s just fine in the context of the broth, seafood, and vegetables used in this recipe.
This dish was a standout recipe in my first cookbook, The Ancestral Table, and here’s what I wrote about it:
Paella is a dish from Valencia, along Spain’s eastern coast. Rice was a product of Moorish influence and was a staple in Spain by the 15th century. Paella developed over the years as people began to add combinations of meats and vegetables. While water vole was one of the first meats used in paella, today’s Valencian paella includes rabbit, chicken, snails, and beans; seafood paella is equally popular and is considered a traditional dish along the Valencian coast.
Using an appropriate type of rice is important, as many varieties were specially bred to absorb liquid without losing texture. Calasparra and bomba rices are preferred and are available from gourmet food suppliers and online. Arborio, a common risotto rice, fares pretty well. In a pinch, plain calrose rice will get the job done. Paella is best made over an open flame and is traditionally prepared outdoors.
Seafood and Sausage Paella (Gluten-free, Perfect Health Diet)
3 cups chicken broth
1 pinch saffron threads (about 10 strands)
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb chorizo or andouille sausage, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups paella rice (calasparra or bomba prefered, arborio okay)
1 lb shrimp
1/2 lb live clams
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 bunch kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
lemon wedges for serving
1. In a small pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Add the saffron and bay leaves, then remove from the heat, allowing the flavors to infuse for at least 10 minutes.
2. As the broth steeps, let’s prep the paella. In a paella pan or large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and sauté until browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms start to release their liquid, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and toast it until the rice is opaque, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the saffron-infused stock and bay leaves; gently stir until well mixed. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Allow to simmer uncovered without stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
3. Arrange the shrimp and clams on top of the paella, then press them a bit into the rice and liquid. Add the peas, zucchini, and kale, then loosely cover with a lid or foil and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the clams have opened and the shrimp has turned pink. Taste and add salt and pepper, discard the bay leaves, then serve with lemon wedges.