There are many, many misconceptions about Paella and one of them is that it must contain either meat; be it seafood or chicken. This is definitely NOT the case and what goes in to a Paella really depends on what you like.
The base of the Paella always stays the same which is made from an intense, reduced stock and grated tomatoes… from there it’s all in your hands!
Now, there will always be someone who says ‘that’s not authentic’ it shouldn’t have this, it should have that. Well in my many years of living in both Spain and in the UK I can’t remember the last time I saw someone have an “authentic” Valencian Paella. Which for those wondering is made of rabbit, chicken, snails and clams. So I think it’s safe to say not everyones cup of tea.
The tip to really nail this Paella is CONFIDENCE (the most Spanish of ingredients!). Make sure you give the vegetables some really good colour in a hot pan. This really brings out the flavour in the vegetables and replicates that smokey taste you get in a traditional Paella, which is cooked over wood.
I like to go that little bit extra to add a refreshing touch to the Paella and I make a parsley and lemon emulsion that, when drizzled over the top, adds the perfect finishing touch.
1/2 Aubergine, cubed
1 Pepper, sliced
2 Runner Beans
80g Broad Beans
250g Paella Rice
1 Paella in a Bottle
Handful of Parsley
Juice of half a Lemon
Heat your Paella pan (or a large flat pan) till it begins to smoke slightly and add a few tablespoons of olive oil.
Add all the vegetables and fry till you have an even char throughout. Keep your eye as they can easily get burnt and become bitter.
Add the Paella in a Bottle and refill the bottle with water 3 times and add to the pan.
Once it has come to boiling point, add the Paella rice evenly. Give the pan a good shake and leave it to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Once the rice is almost done, turn the heat off and set aside for 5 minutes to finish cooking.
In a mortar and pestle crush the handful of parsley, coarse salt, olive oil and lemon till you have a an emulsion.
Serve the Paella and finally drizzle the parsley and lemon emulsion over.
This Paella really gives the perfect mix of textures and flavours, from the earthiness of the runner beans, the sweet crunch of the peppers and the richness from the aubergine…you really can’t go wrong!
I’d recommend vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike to try this recipe. It’s a great and easy way to cut down on meat without having to do much planning and just using the vegetables you have in the fridge. So long as you’re confident in your cooking you’re sure to make a great Paella.