Paella is one of those comforting dishes I like to make when I want something with a little more kick. Very similar to a risotto, paella is a Spanish dish that uses spices such as saffron and paprika. It is a slow cooking process, usually taking about 30 minutes total, but the finishing product is always delicious.
I love to sprinkle shredded manchego cheese over the top for a little kick. Manchego is basically the Spanish version of a parmesan cheese, giving the perfect nutty, peppery flavor to this dish.
You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand - peppers and red onion are the perfect base for this dish, and I added in some fennel, carrots and eggplant that I picked up the farmers market.
Roast them slowly for the perfect charred flavor, seasoning them with salt, pepper and garlic. If you have a seasoning salt, use that - I love using Hippie Pilgrim seasoning salts, in particular the shallot one that has the perfect blend of shallots, garlic, salt and pepper.
Using the right kind of Rice
It's important to use the right kind of rice for this dish as well. Pictured below is the kind I like to use. You might notice it looks a lot like a risotto style rice, and you're right, this dish is very similar, and you will cook this rice just how you would cook a risotto, by slowly adding in cups of broth at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the broth before adding more.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 baby eggplant, unpeeled, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- Good olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 15-oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups Spanish paella rice
- 1 teaspoon spicy paprika
- 5 to 6 cups simmering chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
- Manchebo cheese, grated for serving
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Position two racks evenly spaced in the oven.
- Put the bell peppers, carrots, fennel, eggplants, and red onion in a large bowl, add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper, and toss. Divide the vegetables between two sheet pans and spread in one layer. Roast for 45 minutes, tossing occasionally. Set aside once cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) over medium heat in a large, heavy pan, such as a dutch oven.
- Add the yellow onions and saute for 6 to 8 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and saffron and cook for one minute, then stir in tomatoes and their juices and the paprika.
- Add the rice and stir to coat the rice with oil.
- Add 1 cup of the hot stock and cook uncovered over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, as you would cook risotto. Continue to cook the rice over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring in 1 cup of hot stock at a time whenever the liquid is absorbed, until the rice is al dente.
- Add the vegetables to the paella, add one more cup of stock, and stir carefully. If the paella is dry, add more hot stock.
- Taste for seasonings and serve hot with shredded manchego and scallions