Paella is a dish that gets a lot of attention for its fancy ingredients: seafood, vegetables, beef, chicken, you name it! Me…I like to focus on getting the rice just right. Great paella-makers will tell you that the rice is the real star of this dish and ensuring that the rice has the right depth of flavor, consistency and creating the beloved socorrat (Catalan word for the caramelized rice crust at the bottom of the pan), is where the secret of a great paella truly lies.
That’s why I’m choosing to make a simple tomato paella today. I’ll even show you where you can add some of your other favorite ingredients. This recipe can be adjusted to include any of the traditional meats, fishes and seafood. Just remember to add a handful of the other extra ingredients and not all at once. You don’t want to overcrowd your paella.
Before we start, lets go back to my Paella 101 blog post that should help us with some tips and tricks to keep in mind as we cook.
I make this tomato paella all the time as a side dish because I always have the basics in the fridge and pantry to make this very basic version of the classic dish. It’s a quick dish that’s easy to make and great for a weeknight – yes, I said weeknight!
A delicious and easy stovetop paella that you can whip up on a weeknight - do I hear an ole?!
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves (pressed)
- 1 onion (minced)
- 1 large tomato (finely chopped)
- 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
- 1 very generous pinch of saffron
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock (I use chicken stock)
- 1 1/2 cups of bomba or arborio rice (short grain rice)
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- Bring chicken stock to a boil in a separate stock pot
- While stock is heating, warm olive oil in a wide, deep pan (not pot) about 11-13 inches in width
- Use your widest stovetop burner to cook the paella so it cooks evenly
- Add onion, garlic and saute until onion has softened
- Add tomato and tomato paste and stir until tomato has softened (about 3 minutes)
- Add pimenton, saffron, salt and stir
- Add rice and let the rice "toast" for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rice looks translucent
- Add boiling stock and stir through
- Let the paella come to a boil and then reduce to medium heat and let simmer (do not cover and do not stir again!)
- Cook for about 20 minutes or until ingredients have risen to the top and there is no water left in the pan.
- Turn off flame and cover paella with a kitchen towel to finish cooking for about 3 minutes
- Check the outer edges of the paella pan rice, if still not cooked through, this time cover the pan with aluminum foil and let it finish cooking for another 3 minutes. That should do it.
- Then mix the rice again, add more salt if you'd like, then sprinkle with lemon juice and serve hot.
Some burners are very small, so if you find that the rice around the outer edges of the pan aren't cooked through, you can add more stock and let it keep cooking until the all the rice is even cooked.
Also, if you'd like to add vegetables (classic ones are peas, string beans and sliced red peppers) or seafood (shrimp, scallops, mussels) to the paella to this quick version, I would add them at the same time the recipe calls to add the rice. For meats like chicken or beef, I would add then to your onion and tomato saute closer to the beginning and keep them in the pan for the rest of the time.