I think people are reluctant to cook food they can’t pronounce. It makes it seem foreign, weird, intimidating maybe. But this one isn’t too bad. One word. Three syllables. PA-AY-YA. Now you can cook it!
Paella is a Spanish rice dish, and one of my favorite one-pot meals. I’ve had paella with seafood, with chicken, with sausage, with vegetables, or with a combo of all of the above. There are many different versions. I like recipes like this where you can put your own little spin on it. Many years ago I found a recipe for paella on the back of a Minute Rice box. It was so easy even I, who couldn’t cook much back then, pulled it off without a hitch. This recipe has evolved quite a bit over the years from the back of that box, but I would still consider it a very simple, somewhat Americanized version of this classic dish. I love how easy it is: a quick saute, dump stuff in the pot, and let it cook. And it smells so amazing! If you haven’t ever cooked with saffron, here’s your chance.
2 tbsp. butter
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups chicken broth
1 can stewed tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup chopped pepperoni
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 cup long grain rice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. saffron threads
Heat large skillet over medium heat. Sauté shrimp and garlic in butter 1-2 minutes until mostly cooked. Toss with cornstarch. Add chicken broth, tomatoes with juice, pepperoni, peas, onions and cayenne to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add rice and saffron. Turn down the heat to medium low and cover. Cook around 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Do not stir! Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn but don’t mess with it. You want to cook it until it starts to brown on the bottom, forming just a bit of a crunchy crust. Makes 4 servings.