Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Poor Man's Paella

I hadn't used the saffron that I purchased at the Indian market yet, so I figured I'd try to make some paella.  It's winter and my pantry was kind of bare, but I figured I could make a poor man's paella with an onion, some frozen peas, baby carrots, and canned diced tomatoes.  Paella is a spanish rice dish, not mexican, and it is traditionally made with seafood and veggies  To me paella is more like a risotto than rice found in a mexican restaurant.  Looking up traditional paella recipes, I wasn't too far from the bullseye with what I had on hand.  I simmered the onion then added the carrots and shortly 1 cup of brown basmati rice.  About 30 minutes after the rice the tomatoes and peas were added.  Although I prefer to use fresh veggies, sometimes canned or frozen is the best way to get organic veggies out of season.  I like to have different varieties of canned tomatoes in the pantry just in case.  Muir Glen is a great brand.  And frozen peas are a surprise comfort food for me- growing up my mom had a canned vegetable with every meal she attempted to cook- and while I was all smiles when it was french cut green bean night, I refused to eat more than a fork full of canned peas.  At a friends house years later I discovered how delicious frozen peas were and I went through a couple of weeks where I ate nothing but frozen peas for dinner.  Weird, I know.  Anyway, enjoy this paella base recipe with whatever veggies you have around.  (And, I know calling it poor man's paella is kind of contradictory when the saffron could cost more than anything else in the dish- so sub 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp tumeric if you don't have saffron hanging around.)

Poor Man's Paella

1 onion sliced
3/4 cup carrots chopped
4 strands saffron
2 cloves garlic
1 cup long grain rice (I used brown basmati)
3 cups water/veggie broth
1 can of diced tomatoes (Muir Glen no salt added)
1.5 cups of organic frozen peas
cayenne and salt to taste

Saute onion in a little olive oil on medium high heat, after 3 minutes, add carrots.  Chop, press, or mince garlic and in a mortar and pestle combine with saffron threads.  Add to carrots and onions.  Add the rice and for about 2 minutes before adding the liquid*, toss with veggies to toast the rice.  Add the liquid and stir and reduce heat to medium.  Stir every few minutes and after 30 minutes from when the liquid was added, add the rest of the veggies.  Stir often for 10 more minutes and serve!  
* You may need to add more liquid if the rice is looking dry or the veggies start to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Add liquid in half cup increments if needed.  


  1. Muir Glen does have the best tomatoes ever :)

  2. Hey, Aura! Loving frozen peas is a genetic thing. I ate them all through college. If you find a way to make this dish with that classic toasted rice crust on the bottom of the pan, like a traditional paella, I'd love to know how you did it.