Paella Tips & 9 Recipes To Try At Home

Picture Spain in summer and you can’t not think of paella. Whether you’re after a traditional recipe or a vegan option, here seven cooks share their favourite paella recipes – while one Spanish chef gives his top tips for choosing the rice, cooking the toppings and getting a perfect crust…

Top Tips For Paella: Xabier Alvarez, Trangallán

  • Use as wide a pan as possible and try to achieve the thinnest texture you can. Ideally, this would be around one-grain thick.

  • You need to find out the stock/rice ratio for your pan – and this may take a few attempts. The wider the pan, the higher the evaporation, therefore the more stock you will need.

  • For best results, use bomba rice. Contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t absorb the stock as well as some other premium varieties. However, it is a high-quality rice and it’s very difficult to overcook, making it a great choice for beginners.

  • Don't be shy with olive oil for the sofrito (this is the slow frying of the ingredients prior to adding the rice). A paella with a high content of oil will achieve a thicker emulsified stock after reducing, which will coat your grains of rice and even part solidify on top creating a sticky, umami-charged film – which is the best bit. The oil will also help to caramelise the base of the rice in the pan, which is the most sought-after bit of the dish when it’s served in Spain.

  • If you want to add fish or meat, add it to the pan first and brown. Remove to rest if necessary.

  • Next, make your sofrito. Fry garlic and dried guindilla peppers (to create an aroma in your oil, then remove solids from pan). Then add your choice of veg, including fine beans, broad beans, peppers, artichokes – whatever you fancy. Then add your tomato and reduce well. Deglaze the pan as you go.

  • Now, fry the rice slowly in the pan with the veg. You can add a bit more oil at this point if you feel it needs it.

  • Finally, add a good stock. My favourite is a fish-based stock high in crustacean, shellfish and small rock fish with the addition of saffron. Make sure the stock is boiling before hitting the pan, pour over the rice and simmer on a high heat for at least 7-8 minutes. Progressively lower the heat for a final 10 minutes. If you set aside extra fish or meat from the beginning add to the pan for the final two minutes.

  • Rest for a few minutes then serve with a wedge of lemon and a good dollop of hand-whisked aioli.

Visit Trangallan.com

Summer Vegetable Paella With Saffron & Lemon: Bob Andrew, Riverford

INGREDIENTS

  • Sunflower or light olive oil, for frying

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, grated or crushed

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 5mm slices

  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into 5mm slices

  • 200g of paella rice – calasparra paella rice is best if you can get it

  • 100g of mushrooms, finely sliced

  • 3 tomatoes, diced

  • ¼ tsp of smoked paprika

  • ¼ tsp of paprika

  • 2 pinches of saffron threads

  • 1 litre of good veg stock

  • 100g of green beans or sugar snaps, or a mixture of both (if using beans, top, tail and chop into thirds)

  • 1 good handful of parsley, chopped

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a heavy-bottomed paella pan or large frying pan or flameproof casserole. Add the onion and fry gently on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Add the garlic and peppers to the onion and stir for 2 minutes. Add the rice, mushrooms, tomatoes, both types of paprika and saffron. 

  2. Pour in three quarters of the stock and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the liquid and top up with a little more stock or water as needed (you might not need it all). The paella shouldn't be sloppy at the end so add liquid sparingly during the last 10 minutes. 

  3. While the paella is cooking, boil the green beans for 3 minutes, then refresh them in a bowl of very cold water. If you are using sugar snaps, you can simply throw them in raw towards the end of cooking (see below). After 30 minutes of cooking, check the rice is tender and cook a little longer if needed. If there is any excess liquid, turn up the heat and stir to boil it off. 

  4. Then cook very gently without stirring, to create a crust on the bottom (it's not very easy to achieve without a proper paella pan, though). Stir in the beans and parsley. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 2 minutes, then check the seasoning and serve with wedges of lemon. 

Mushroom Paella With Smokey Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 200g of mushrooms, finely sliced⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 4 tomatoes, diced⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 lemon, halved⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 tsp of light brown sugar⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 150g of arborio rice⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 tin of chickpeas⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 paella spice mix (1 tsp of paprika, ½ tbsp of bouillon powder, 1 tsp of dried thyme)

  • 1 pinch of saffron⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 15g of parsley, finely chopped⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 15g of sorrel, roughly shredded⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  • 20g of flaked almonds

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas 6. 

  2. Sprinkle the cut sides of lemon with sugar. Place cut-side down in a large, deep frying pan and heat until caramelised, then transfer to a plate. 

  3. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in the same pan. Gently fry the onion on a low heat for 10 minutes – don’t forget to stir now and then. 

  4. Rinse the rice in a sieve. Drain the chickpeas into a colander, rinse under cold water, pat dry with kitchen paper or a clean tea towel, and leave to air dry for 5 minutes. 

  5. Toss the dried chickpeas on a baking tray in oil to coat. Season with salt. Roast for 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside. Toss every 10 minutes so they roast evenly. Some may pop a bit. 

  6. Meanwhile, add the garlic, mushrooms and pepper to the onion. Stir. Add the rice, tomatoes, paella spice mix, saffron and half the smoked paprika. Pour in 600ml of water. Season. 

  7. Boil for 25-30 minutes, adding more water as needed. Stir occasionally, until the rice is tender with a little bite. 

  8. Put the almonds on a baking tray. Bake them for 2-4 minutes (keep a good eye on them), until golden. 

  9. Toss the cooked chickpeas in the remaining smoked paprika. Toss the sorrel with the rice. Season. Serve the paella, sprinkled with the chickpeas, almonds and parsley, and with the caramelised lemon for squeezing. 

Red Pepper Paella With Wild Garlic, Almonds & Olive & Orange Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • Oil, for frying

  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

  • 1 celery stick, finely sliced

  • 2 tomatoes, diced

  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika

  • 1 pinch saffron

  • 75ml of white wine

  • 200g of paella rice

  • 700ml of vegetable stock

  • 1 orange

  • 30g of flaked almonds

  • 50g of wild garlic, washed well and chopped

  • 1 small handful of salad leaves

  • A few black olives, halved

  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan. Add the onion, peppers and celery. Fry gently on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring now and then. 

  2. Everything should cook down into a tender, golden tangle. Add a dash of water if it looks like drying out and burning. 

  3. Add the tomatoes, smoked paprika, saffron and white wine to the pan. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the wine to reduce. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 

  4. Add the rice and stir gently to coat the grains. Spread and level the rice as evenly across the pan as you can. Tip over the stock and leave to simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes. Check the rice gently every so often to make sure it isn't drying out too much or burning onto the pan. 

  5. Add a dash of water if needed but try to avoid excessive stirring or movement. 

  6. Remove the orange peel with a sharp knife. Slice the orange into thin rounds, reserving any juice. 

  7. Heat a small frying pan and toast the almonds over a medium heat. Keep them moving and turning until lightly coloured. 

  8. Mix with a dash of oil and a good pinch of salt. 

  9. After 25 minutes add the wild garlic to the rice pan, pushing it into the rice rather than stirring. Cook for a further 5 minutes, checking the rice as before, until the rice is just cooked. You don't want the paella to be too sloppy at the end, so add any extra liquid sparingly during the last 5 minutes. Ideally, you'd like a slight golden crust to form on the bottom of the rice. If you fear it may be burning use more liquid. Cover the pan with a lid or some foil. Leave to stand for 5 minutes. 

  10. Serve the paella with the salted almonds scattered on top. Serve the salad leaves, oranges and olives as a simple side salad. 

Visit Riverford.co.uk

Paella: Justine Murphy, MyMuyBueno

This recipe is easily adaptable; swap out the seafood and chicken for green beans, extra tomatoes and mushrooms to go veggie.

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 tbsp of sunflower oil

  • 4 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless 

  • 150g of chorizo, cut into small dice

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced 

  • 1 medium onion, finely diced 

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced 

  • 1½ litres of vegetable or chicken stock

  • ½ tsp of saffron strands

  • 350g of paella rice

  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika

  • 12 small clams, cleaned 

  • 12 mussels, cleaned and debearded 

  • 100g of frozen peas 

  • 1 large tomato, cut into small dice 

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced 

  • 12 large raw prawns, deveined

  • 1 medium squid, cleaned and sliced into rings

  • 4 langoustines (optional)

  • 5 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley 

  • Pinch of flaked sea salt 

  • Grind of black pepper

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

METHOD

  1. Add a tbsp of sunflower oil to a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the chicken thighs and leave them to brown for 3 minutes on each side, put to one side, and cover with foil to keep warm.

  2. Next, heat two tbsp of oil in a paella or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until the oils are starting to release, then add the garlic, onion and pepper to cook until softened. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock in a saucepan and add the saffron into it. Mix well. Now add the paella rice to the paella pan and stir quickly until all the grains are completely coated and glossy. Add the paprika and pour in the hot saffron chicken stock. Wedge the chicken thighs deeply in the rice with just the tops showing.

  3. Over the next 15 minutes, add extra water, 100ml at a time, as the rice starts to absorb the stock. Be careful not to add too much though, and stay with it, as you don’t want the bottom layer to catch and burn or the rice to dry out. Add the clams, mussels, peas and chopped tomato, then continue to cook the gently bubbling paella for another 10-15 minutes while it continues to absorb liquid.

  4. Clean and dry your chicken pan, heat one tablespoon of oil and then add half the garlic. Once it has started to brown, add the prawns two or three at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook on both sides until all the prawns are done, adding a little more oil if needed. Place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb excess grease, then add the prawns to your paella.

  5. Clean and dry the pan again, place on a medium heat and add the last tablespoon of oil. When the oil is really bubbling, add the remaining garlic and then the squid rings. Give them 10 seconds in the pan to get some colour, turning to cook both sides, then evenly distribute the squid in the paella. Finally, add the langoustines (if using) to the frying pan and allow the heat to cook them on all sides for 1 minute. Carefully transfer them into the paella.

  6. Scatter the chopped parsley over the paella, season with salt and pepper then serve immediately with lots of lemon wedges and aioli.

Visit MyMuyBuenoPrivateChefs.com

Paella: Henry Russell, Belazu

A paella sizzling away in the large pans always looks very impressive with all the different types of seafood and golden rice, and yet somewhat unachievable. However, this recipe will turn making paella into a piece of cake – no standing over the cooker for hours constantly stirring but with the intense flavours that you would expect you find in a Spanish paella.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Spanish onion

  • 1 red pepper

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 3 tbsp of early harvest extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 raw chorizo sausages 

  • 1 jar of roasted pepper tapenade

  • 125ml of white wine 

  • 400g of paella rice

  • 500ml of fish or chicken stock

  • 200g of mussel meat

  • 350g of squid tubes, sliced into rings

  • 200g of raw peeled tiger prawns

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes

  • Salt

  • Lemon wedges and aioli, to serve

METHOD

  1. Slice the onion, peppers and garlic and add to a suitably large heavy based frying pan with the oil. Fry on a medium heat stirring regular until softened and slightly golden.

  2. Slice the chorizo sausages into rounds and add to the pan, cook for 5 minutes and then add the red pepper tapenade, bring up to simmer and add the rice, cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously then add the wine.

  3. Add the stock, chopped tomatoes and the mussels, prawns and squid, stir well and season with salt to taste. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook slowly until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked (around 20-25 minutes). Ideally you want a nice crispy base layer of rice but not burnt. If the paella is still wet when the rice is cooked remove some stock with a ladle and increase the heat slightly until the desired consistency is achieved.

  4. Serve with lemon wedges and lots of aioli.

Visit Belazu.com

Vegetable Paella: Maryanne Hall, Viva!'s Vegan Recipe Club

INGREDIENTS

  • Oil for frying

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 2 handfuls of vegan chorizo, sliced (optional)

  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced

  • 5 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped 

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • ½ tsp of smoked paprika 

  • ½ tsp of cayenne pepper

  • 200g of paella rice

  • 125ml of (vegan) dry white wine

  • 1 good pinch of saffron, soaked in tiny amount boiling water (ideally for 15-30 minutes)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 475ml of strong vegan stock

  • 200g of frozen or fresh peas or broad beans

  • 1 tbsp of capers

  • 10 artichoke pieces (from a jar), halved

  • 1 handful of olives, halved

  • 1 tbsp of fresh parsley or thyme leaves, chopped 

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. In a paella pan, wok or wide frying pan, lightly fry the onion until slightly soft. If using vegan chorizo, add this now and fry for a couple of minutes.

  2. Add the red pepper and tomatoes and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Stir through the garlic and fry for 1 more minute.

  4. Add the cayenne pepper and paprika and stir through for 30 seconds before adding the paella rice. 

  5. Stir the rice through and fry for a minute before adding the liquid.

  6. Add the white wine, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. 

  7. Add the vegetable stock, bay leaves and saffron, stir through and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Don't stir while it’s simmering. 

  8. After 10 minutes of simmering, add the frozen peas/broad beans but fold them in rather than stirring.

  9. Simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the capers, artichokes, olives, seasoning and fresh herbs. 

  10. Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of vegan wine.

Visit VeganRecipeClub.org.uk

Perfect Paella: Seafish

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 raw king prawns, deveined and washed

  • 500g of closed mussels

  • 100g of chorizo, diced

  • 500g of rice

  • 50ml of olive oil

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 1 pepper roughly chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • ½ tsp of dried chilli flakes

  • ½ tsp of smoked hot paprika

  • A large glass of white wine or apple juice

  • 1 litre of fish stock, but you could use vegetable or chicken

  • 4 tomatoes and any other items like spring onions, peas or baby corn that you wish to add

METHOD

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large wok type pan. When the oil is hot, add in the chopped chorizo and cook for a few minutes.

  2. When the chorizo is cooking away nicely, add in the chopped onion and pepper and gently stir everything together for a few minutes.

  3. Next it's time to add the crushed garlic and some spices - we think chilli flakes and paprika are ideal. Stir for another minute together.

  4. Then add the rice and stir for a further two minutes until everything mixes together.

  5. Next add the white wine or you can use apple juice and keep stirring. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, add in the fish stock and tomatoes and simmer on a reduced heat for up to 15 minutes. You'll know that it's cooked when the rice is soft and all the stock has been absorbed.

  6. Finally it's time to add the prawns, mussels and any other seafood you have to hand to cook over the heat for four minutes. At this point you can also add chopped spring onions, peas and mini corn heads.

  7. When the mussels are all open, the paella is ready to serve. If there are any closed mussels left, you should throw these in the bin.

Visit FishIsTheDish.co.uk

Easy Spanish Paella: AO Life

INGREDIENTS  

  • 300g of paella rice

  • 2 chicken breasts

  • 800ml of chicken stock

  • 200g of frozen peas, defrosted

  • 1 large onion

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil

  • 200g of chorizo sausage

  • 200g of king prawns (with shell on if possible)

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 tsp of sweet paprika

  • 1 tsp of hot paprika

  • 4 chopped tomatoes

  • 100ml of white wine

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

METHOD

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces. Finely chop the onion, cut the chorizo into thick slices and cube the tomatoes.

  2. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the chicken breast pieces and brown them from all sides over a medium heat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

  3. Put the onion and chorizo into the pan and cook until the onions are soft. Then add the minced garlic and paprika and stir into the mix before adding the chopped tomatoes and cooking for around 5 minutes.

  4. Add the rice and stir into the mix. Heat the mix and add the wine. Bring to a boil and simmer until the wine has been soaked up.

  5. Put the cooked chicken back into the pan and mix. Add the stock, bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered until all the stock is absorbed.

  6. Add the peas and stir them into the rice, then put the prawns on top. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat until the rice is softened. 

  7. Cut the lemon into wedges for decorating just before serving. Serve with a glass of chilled wine.

Visit AO.com

Arroz Negro: Souschef

Arroz negro – a glistening, black squid ink paella-style recipe – makes a memorable dish. You can make it with pan-fried fresh squid, or if you prefer to keep all the ingredients in for a store cupboard treat, then use great quality Spanish tinned squid in ink.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp of olive oil

  • 340g of fresh squid, cut into 2-3cm pieces or 2 x 115g tins of squid pieces in ink sauce

  • 2 onions, diced

  • 2 x 400g of tinned tomatoes, chopped or crushed directly in the pan

  • 1 tbsp of tomato puree

  • 5 anchovies

  • 340g of paella rice

  • 200ml of white wine

  • 800ml of well-seasoned fish or shellfish stock

  • 12g of squid or cuttlefish ink

For the aioli:

  • Large pinch of saffron

  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely minced or crushed to a puree in a pestle and mortar

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 medium egg yolk 

  • 200ml of sunflower or vegetable oil

  • 200ml of Spanish extra virgin olive oil

METHOD

  1. First make the aioli. Grind the saffron to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar. Add 1 tbsp of cold water and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. 

  2. Add the pureed garlic, a good pinch of salt and egg yolk. Mix well and transfer to a larger bowl. Mix together the two oils and slowly drizzle into the egg yolk mixture, whisking steadily. It will start to emulsify after adding 75-100ml oil. Continue whisking in the remaining oil. Season with a good amount more salt to taste and refrigerate until use.  

  3. If using fresh squid, heat the olive oil in a skillet or paella pan, and flash fry the squid for two minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the squid and place it on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil – once cool, refrigerate until use. If using tinned squid, just move directly to frying the onions in the olive oil.  

  4. Add the onions, and fry on a low heat for 10 minutes until they have softened and turned translucent. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and anchovies. 

  5. Turn up the heat and cook for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. 

  6. Turn the heat down and cook for a further 15 minutes until the sauce starts to turn a deep red colour. 

  7. Add the paella rice to the paella pan, stir into the tomato sauce and turn up the heat. When the grains of rice are too hot to touch, add the white wine to the pan, and stir. 

  8. In a separate pan, heat the fish stock and stir the squid/cuttlefish ink into the liquid. Pour all of the stock into the paella pan at once, and simmer on a medium heat, without stirring it. 

  9. After 10 minutes, give the rice one thorough stir. Add the squid (either the pan-fried fresh squid, or the tins of squid in their sauce), and then turn down the heat for a further 10 minutes. Keep checking the rice. If before the time is up, it is looking dry, add 100-200ml water to loosen it.  

  10. After 10 minutes of low simmer, the stock should be absorbed. Serve warm with aioli. 

Visit Souschef.co.uk

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