Paella is probably the most widely known Spanish dish.  I personally love ordering it at my favorite tapas restaurant, but I didn’t decide to tackle it in my kitchen until recently.  I was intimidated because traditionally, it’s made with special paella rice in a special paella pan; both of which can be hard to find.  Alas, I decided to just forget the rules and make the famous dish as best as I could with the ingredients I had on hand. I think I came up with a winning recipe that anyone, anywhere can make.

 True, this may not be as good as your favorite Spanish restaurant’s version but I think its worth a try if you want to spice up a normal weekday with a simple, exotic dish.  Enjoy!


Ingredients: (serves 5-6)

  • ¼ cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ lb chorizo sausage
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or Pernod
  • 1 teaspoon saffron or 1 Sazon* packet
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tbsp crab boil seasoning such as Old Bay
  • ½ lb mussels
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley for garnish
  • Lemon wedges for garnish

*Sazon is a seasoning made by Goya.  Some stray from seasoning packs because of the additives, but this was what I used for color when I could not find saffron. Plus it’s a lot cheaper. If you do sub in the packet, eliminate or significantly reduce the salt.



For this dish you will need a large, deep skillet with a lid.  Heat the oil over medium-high; add the diced onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Then add the diced red bell pepper, sauté until it has softened slightly, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.  Then add the chorizo and sauté until brown and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any brown bits that may be on the bottom.  Mix in the tomato paste, followed by the rice and allow the rice to toast for 1 minute.

Next pour in the stock, add the saffron or Sazon packet, a pinch or two of salt and stir to combine.  Bring everything to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover and allow the rice mixture to cook for 10 minutes. 

While the rice is cooking, toss the clean shrimp with the crab boil seasoning and clean the mussels by removing the beards and gently placing them in a bowl of water with 2-3 teaspoons of flour.  Pour the water off and be sure to discard any mussels that do not close all the way.

After 10 minutes, remove the lid and gently stir the seasoned shrimp and frozen peas into the rice mixture.  Place the mussels on top of everything, cover and cook for 10 minutes more over low heat.  When time is up, check to make sure that the rice is cooked through, the shrimp is pink and tender and that all the mussels have opened.

Finally, sprinkle the tablespoon of parsley over the top and serve the paella right out of the pan with lemon wedges.

April Wardlaw is a passionate home cook that caters and bakes part time.  She shares her life in the kitchen on her cooking blog, Facebook fan page and Instagram page (@the_single_cook).