Healthy Living Recipes
Deb Morgan: I hear there are as many versions of paella as there are families in Spain. That being said, this month I offer you our Kripalu family recipe for seafood or vegetarian paella, inspired by Elsa, one of our volunteers, who hails from Spain. At Kripalu we make this with fish and sometimes with wild caught shrimp. If you’re making the seafood version at home, try including mussels, clams, and scallops.
Basic Paella Recipes and Technique
- Make stock.
Stock can be made by simmering a variety of vegetables and herbs in water. Shrimp shells, fish heads, and other such “rejects” can be added to make a richer broth. My favorite and very simple broth for both seafood and vegetable paella is as follows: Bring 6 cups water to a boil with a 3-inch piece of kombu seaweed, turn off heat, then add ¼ cup bonita flakes (for a true vegetarian broth, just use the kombu). Let simmer a few minutes, then strain the broth and keep it hot for paella.
- Gather and prepare ingredients.
Here are two variations, although paella has no limits.
- Make a garlic saffron paste.
Using either a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with peeled garlic and saffron threads. Mash or blend until smooth, then set aside.
- Begin to cook (a paella pan is recommended).
Sauté the onions and peppers in 2 tablespoons olive oil until they become aromatic. Add tomatoes and continue to simmer until a fond begins to form (that’s the sticking at the bottom of the pan). Deglaze the pan with the wine (in other words, splash wine, stock, or water in the pan to steam-cook the sticky stuff off the sides). Sear the scallops and fish in the pan, adding a little salt and pepper, then remove and set aside. For the vegetarian paella, add the cooked beans at this point. Combine the saffron mixture with 1 cup hot stock and salt to taste, then set aside. Add the rice to the vegetables and stir. Add the saffron broth and stir. Add 2 more cups of hot broth and distribute rice evenly. Continue to simmer until rice begins to soften.
- Finish paella one of two ways:
- Lay your seafood on top, if using. Remove from heat, cover, and place in a 275 degree oven. Bake until rice has absorbed all of the stock (about 10 minutes).
- Alternatively, continue to cook the rice on the stovetop until it is almost soft but retains a slightly chewy texture. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley or cilantro and garnish with fresh lemon wedges. Traditionally paella is eaten right out of the pan, with everyone cutting a piece and sitting around the table to feast.
½ pound or more white fish, such as haddock
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
½–1 cup each red and green pepper
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup white wine
3–5 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon saffron
1½ cups rice
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges for garnish
Substitute 2 cups cooked lima beans in place of seafood; smoked tofu also adds a wonderful flavor.
Add more vegetables: asparagus, squash (summer or winter), or sun-dried tomatoes, for example. The rest of the ingredients remain the same, and a dash of truffle oil adds the perfect finish.