Lately I’ve found myself reminiscing about carefree days when I lived in London and travelled throughout Europe. The scenery, architecture and food was amazing. One of my favourite places was Barcelona where the fragrance of Spanish paellas filled the air and the flavours were intense, yet wanting to be savoured.
Paella is a one pot meal that’s best shared. This recipe makes enough for 8 people, but you can easily halve the ingredients for a smaller group. The great thing is if you use a few key ingredients, (usually rice, saffron, seafood and vegetables), you can adapt the rest to suit your tastes. Paella is a nostalgic dish for me and I hope you find joy in the taste of this amazing dish too.
- Blister the skin of the capsicum over a BBQ or in an oven, then place in a bowl and cover with Glad Wrap (cling film) to steam. This will help to peel the skin off easily and release the full smokey flavour.
- In 1 litre of hot water, soak the saffron.
- In a large pot (or paella pan), add the chicken and cook until golden on each side. This usually takes approximately 10 minutes, then set aside.
- Add chopped onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 - 10 minutes until soft.
- Return the chicken to the pot with the stock, onion and garlic and simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has reduced by at least half.
- Remove any prawn shells, heads, and de-vein, but leave the tails on. De-beard the mussels and set aside with any other seafood you want to include.
- Chop the tomatoes roughly. This is a rustic-style dish and the tomatoes will cook down, so there’s no need to be too neat. Add the tomatoes and prawns to the pot. Boil and add the paella rice and rosemary. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes (removing the rosemary after 2-3 minutes). Reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes, until the rice is soft and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Taste test the paella rice. If needed, add another ¼ cup of water or stock.
- Peel the capsicum and slice it into strips. Add a splash of olive or truffle oil and the juice of 1 lemon. Season with salt and pepper (or vegetable salt). Add the seafood and stir to combine.
- Slice the baby zucchini into batons, saving any flowers for garnishing. Add the peas, broad beans and capsicum to the pot.
- Nestle the mussels in with the rice, then scatter over the prawns. You could also include fish or salmon.
- Cover and cook until the mussels have opened and the prawns have lightened in colour. This should take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside while covered to rest for 5 -10 minutes.
- Roughly chop the parsley and zucchini flowers and sprinkle place over the paella. Drizzle with olive or truffle oil. Slice the remaining lemon into wedges and add to each plate.
Tips from the author
My biggest tip is not to stir the rice while it’s cooking. I’ve made that mistake before and it results in mushy rice which is not ideal! Traditional recipes tend to have a crusty, yet flavoursome layer of caramelised rice at the bottom of the pan known as the ‘socarrat’.
For a vegetarian option, add more vegetables. Mushrooms, green beans, corn, artichoke and olives all work well in this dish.
When serving, you may also like to include a dollop of sour cream.