Well hi there, good to see you again! I’m back from a long holiday vacation that included treating myself to a complete break from posting on my blog or on Instagram. In truth, I’ve been back to work since early January, but it’s taken me a long time to get back into the rhythm! I’ve spent the past week taking down the holiday decorations, cleaning up the house, getting organized, and taking back control over my mailbox. The upcoming months will be incredibly busy as I have not one, but two cookbook projects coming up (!!) For now, I choose to blindly believe everything will go according to plan—though I secretly know I’ll probably end up in tears many times. Still, I needed to feel in control before starting any “real” work.
One other thing I’ve started doing to prepare for the busy months ahead is to draw up a list of go-to weeknight recipes. I’ll be turning up in the kitchen, making a lot of food, most of which will also serve as dinner (handy!). But I know that some nights, nothing will be lined up. Those are the days my do-to list will come in handy. The list is displayed on my fridge, and I’ve been adding to it for the past few months. Whenever I make something that’s quick and easy and is loved by the whole family, I add it to the list. Bonus points when it can be made in advance or produces leftovers.
This Weeknight Paella is one of my family’s favorite dishes. Now I know associating the words “weeknight” and “paella” could be considered heresy, but I thought it sounded more appealing than “Spanish-Style Rice Dish.” I call it a paella because it uses ingredients usually associated with the dish: saffron, garlic, tomatoes, shrimp, chorizo, and chicken all contribute to pile on the flavor in record time. This Weeknight Paella takes 40 minutes to make start to finish, most of it hands-off, and produces two generous meals for our family of two adults and a very hungry toddler. Plus, I find that paella is one of those dishes that develops even more flavor as it sits, so I usually make it at lunchtime—advance meal prep is one of the perks of working from home—and simply reheat it come dinnertime.
Using saffron in a weeknight dish may feel incredibly indulgent, but it’s a spice I like to always keep on hand: a little saffron goes a very long way when it comes to building flavor. If you don’t have it at home, substitute turmeric for an equally colorful result.
Makes 4-6 portions.
This Weeknight Paella requires only 10 minutes of hands on work and lands on your table 30 minutes later. Its spectacular flavors will brighten any meal!
10 minPrep Time
30 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
Add the chicken broth and saffron to a small pot and place over low heat.
In a large, shallow pan, heat the olive olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo sausage and sauté until crisp. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the paella rice, paprika, and salt, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the saffron-infused broth and diced tomatoes. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook over minimum heat for 15 minutes.
Stir in the frozen peas, then tuck in the shrimp. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more. If you notice the rice seems dry at this point, you can add up to ½ cup (125 ml) more chicken broth to loosen it, though note that paella is a dryer and stiffer rice dish than risotto.
Stir in the cooked chicken, parsley, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
“Paella rice” is short-grain Spanish rice that cooks to a firm, sticky bite. Common varieties include Bahia, Balilla, Bomba, Senia, and Calasparra. The difference between paella rice and risotto rice is that risotto rice releases more starch, creating a “creamy” result upon cooking. You wouldn’t usually want that creamy result for a paella, but if you’re short on paella rice or can’t find it, you can substitute an Italian short-grain variety in a pinch. Because you’re not stirring the rice as it cooks (contrary to risotto), the result is close enough and certainly just as delicious.