It really shouldn’t be such a surprise that I’m so into paella that it’s my new favorite thing… it’s like Spanish risotto (only easier, hallelujah, because you just deglaze the pan and then add all of the liquid) and you just can’t go wrong with risotto. I’m calling this paella-ish because I’m sure I didn’t make this traditionally and that some true experts will find flaws in my execution, but at the end of the day this was as good as the paella I had out at a restaurant recently. I love the smokey, rich flavor that is present without the use of heavy oils, butters or cheeses.
This paella base is one I kind of made up myself based on what I had in the fridge- carrots, red pepper, onion and garlic, then finished with a load of frozen spinach. I deglazed the pan with dry white wine, but that was only because I had some on hand. In typical me fashion, I have added additional vegetables to the recipe as compared to what I saw in the restaurant to add some bulk to the meal without added meat or expense. A nice chorizo sausage would be an amazing addition to this if you can get your hands on one.
Serves four (no costing, you know it’s expensive)
4 carrots, chopped
One onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
One large tomato, chopped
One box of vegetable stock
3 saffron threads
One cup of arborio rice
One frozen spinach nugget
~7 shrimp per person
Pantry: smoked paprika, paprika, oregano, a pinch of cumin, crushed chili flakes or cayenne, salt and pepper
Start by chopping up your onion, garlic, carrots and red bell pepper and depositing them into a pot with about a tablespoon of olive oil. While you have your cutting board out, you might as well chop your tomato for later, just put it in a bowl and set it aside. Turn the heat on under your veggies at about 3/4 strength and get them softening, you want them maybe 60-75% cooked.
While you get your veggies softening, take approximately 1.75 cups of your stock in a microwaveable dish and your saffron and infuse the broth in the microwave for about 45 seconds to a minute.
Once your veggies are cooked about 75%, add in about 1/2 a teaspoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, crushed chili flakes to your preference on spice, a pinch of cumin and plenty of salt and pepper. Once your spice mix is thoroughly bonded to your veggies and no longer powdery, add your rice and toast it for 2-3 minutes. Once it is toasted, deglaze the pan either with 1/2 cup of stock or 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Once that’s cooked out, pour in all of your infused stock and let the paella cook- stir it occasionally.
In the last five minutes I added my frozen spinach and chopped tomato. You want your paella to finish as a drier risotto texture. In those five minutes I also sauteed my shrimp with a dash of lemon pepper.