It’s 4:30 in the morning while I write this post, having ninja’d swiftly out of bed to take care of my sick baby (Bailey the poodle, but my baby none the less). My immediate thought was, I have 2 hours until work, what can I make her to soothe her stomach? So, I have some plain rice cooking downstairs in the rice cooker. It’s amazing how all my thoughts re-direct right back to food. Why is that? When anyone I know is sick, I immediately run to the store and buy up the ingredients to make them homemade chicken noodle soup, when a friend is sad I try to find out their favorite happy food memory and recreate it as fast as I can… it always comes back around to food for me. The only reason I can think of for this, is that it’s my own personal way, and one of the only ways I know how, to fully take care and comfort someone. There is something so soothing when you are down, about having your favorite dish to heat up that reminds you of home, and warms you up a little inside.
For me, that is anything that I grew up with – my mom and step-mom’s gumbo, my housekeeper’s cajun pasta, or stewed okra and tomatoes… it’s all very southern based, but that is how I was raised. This paella I made reminded me a lot of the jambalaya I grew up with, and I have to imagine the heartiness makes this someone else’s ultimate comfort dish. It is so fascinating learning about other cultures, the food dishes they associate with their region, and what comforts them to cook. In the end, this is one of the common denominators I believe, that brings us all together – food. Maybe that’s why it’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I want to bring someones spirit up!
What inspired me to make this paella dish, was an upcoming event in Houston that I am really excited about – Spain’s Great Match Food & Wine event. I love events like this that showcase some of the most exciting parts about a region’s culture – food, wine, creativity… The event is featuring over 200 wines paired with tapas from some of Houston’s top Spanish restaurants, which I love because I grew up mainly eating southern food (so this is all very new to me). To celebrate, I am giving my readers an exclusive coupon code to receive $15 off your ticket! Just enter ATASTYMESS at checkout, and also be sure to enter my giveaway for 2 tickets on my instagram!! This event is going to be a blast, if you live in Houston it’s a must go!
(I received compensation for this post, however all opinions are completely my own).
One of my favorite (and most important) parts about this dish was the intense flavor the saffron gave it. I never really cook with saffron so it was such a nice flavor to experience – the best way I can describe it is, almost hay-like, or like honey, but it’s so complex you just need to try it for yourself :). The other most important part about this dish is the stock. You MUST use homemade stock.… it is one of the most essential parts about the paella because it imparts a ton of flavor into the dish. I use my own homemade vegetable stock, but a little trick I have is to call up an Italian restaurant nearby and ask the chef if he will sell you a quart of his stock – in my experience they are always more than happy to do this.
If you make the paella or alter it, tag #atastymess on instagram so I can see how it turned out!!!
- 1 small yellow onion, minced
- 1 cup wild mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup french green beans, cut
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb shrimp
- .75 lb scallops
- 4-8 oz. lobster tail
- .25 lb squid, sliced into strips
- 1-2 roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups alborio or bomba rice
- 1 quart vegetable stock (Keep warm until ready to use)
- salt, to taste
- ½ tsp. saffron
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- 4 tbsp. parsley, minced
- olive oil to cook
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add in the lobster tail for about 3 minutes, until it turns pink, then remove and set aside to cool. Once it cools, crack it open, chop it up, and keep to the side.
- Heat about a tbsp. of olive oil in a paella pan on medium, and add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomato, and green beans. Sprinkle with salt, and saute until they start to become tender, about ten minutes. Then, remove and set aside. Next, add a touch more olive oil and saute all of the seafood. Season again with salt, and once the shrimp begin to turn pink remove it all and set aside. Add in the rice (don't clean the pan), and let it cook for a minute or so. Next, add in the stock, smoked paprika, saffron, salt to season, and parsley, and turn the heat down to a simmer.
- Let the paella cook on low, moving it around occasionally, and once almost all of the liquid is gone, add back all the other ingredients. Stir well and cook for several more minutes.
- Finally, serve!!