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Ole', Espana: How to make a quick and easy paella

Updated on October 4, 2011
Paella valenciana
Paella valenciana | Source

Paella - the national dish of Spain

Having lived, studied and spent many vacations in Spain, I have brought back several recipes of the national dish of Spain, paella. It is my favorite food and receipe from Spain, and I have have spent many an evening lingering over a dish of paella and a glass of red Riojas wine with family and friends. This dish is not difficult to make, despite what you have heard, read, or seen on the food channel. I have an easy recipe for paella that takes no more than approximately 30-45 minutes to make, tops. But first, a little history of the dish, paella.

Paella originated in Valencia, Spain, which is on the east coast of Spain along the Mediterranean Sea. It is in the Catalan region of Spain of which Barcelona is the capital city, and it came into its modern form in the mid-19th century. The word paella comes from Catalan, one of the dialects of Spain, and comes from the Old French word paelle for pan. Therefore, paella is named for this dish because of the pan in which it is cooked. Also, passed down verbally from Spanish generation to generation is the linguistic definition that it is made "pa ella" - for her, as originally paella was cooked by men for women.

Yes, in the macho driven world of Spain, men cooked paella for women. It was and still is the romantic thing to do. So all you men out there, pay attention, so you can learn to cook a romantic meal for your woman.

Paella was originally an outdoor meal, cooked in a gigantic paella pan, over a wood fire. The ingredients would cook and simmer for several hours to get just the right flavors and taste of the rice. When cooking was finished the large paella pan was put on the table and everyone ate directly from the pan. That is rarely done today in Spain as it is individually served whether eating inside our outside. The dish became so popular in Valencia, that when the Spanish from other towns, villages and regions visited, they brought the dish back home and added or subtracted ingredients according to their regional tastes. Paella Valenciana is cooked with seafood because it is on the Mediterraean Sea, but it does not have to have seafood in it. For those who are not seafood eaters or those allergic to seafood, paella can be made with just meat in it.

La Paella or paellera is the cooking utensil for paella and traditionally was made of iron, but today is made of stainless steel. The base of the pan is flat and the pan is circular and shallow and has two round handles on opposite sides. They start at 10-15" wide and this cooks enough for about four to six people. They continue to rise in size according to how many for which you want to cook. These, also, can be quite expensive, but I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma for about $24 and this is an extremely moderate price. They also sell at Sur la Table but are much more expensive. Follow the written directions for seasoning the pan, as this adds to the flavor of the dish when cooked in it. If you don't have a paella pan, or cannot find one locally, just use a large stainless steel skillet and it will work for you.

Paella Valenciana consists of the following ingredients: white rice, green vegetables, chicken or rabbit, chorizo (Spanish sausage), seafood, saffron (this spice makes the rice yellow) and olive oil. Saffron is terribly expensive here in the U.S. because we don't grow it and have to import it from Spain. So the least expensive and easist thing to do is to buy bagged rice with the saffron already in it. The brands I use are Vigo or Goya, and these are easily purchased in your local grocery store in the international food section. They usually cost between $2-4 for eight to sixteen ounces.

Here is my recipe for one-dish Speedy Paella:


1 package (3 1/2 ounces) chorizo (Spanish style sausage) or pepperoni cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 pound chicken tenders each cut crosswise into thirds. I also use 4-6 whole chicken thighs as an alternative.

1 medium red pepper chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed with garlic press. You can also substitute garlic powder here.

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 package (8 ounces) Spanish-style yellow rice mix (Brands: Goya or Vigo)

1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas

Cooking Instructions:

1. In a stainless steel or non-stick 12 inch skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes or until fat is released, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer chorizo to plate.

2. In same skillet, add chicken and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through; transfer chicken to plate. Add pepper, garlic, and thyme to skillet and cook 1 minute stirring. Add rice mix, 2 cups water. Add chorizo; heat mixture to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, 10 minutes.

3. Stir frozen peas into rice mixture and cook 5 minutes, covered. Stir in chicken and heat through. Transfer to warm serving bowl if you like or just put the pan on the table. (If you are using seafood, after stiring chicken into rice mixture, add clams, mussels, prawns, and/or langostas and heat through)

Ole' - Serve with French bread (yes, the Spanish eat French bread; they do not have a bread of their own), a mixed tossed salad with oil and vinegar for dressing and Spanish Riojas red wine or red Sangria. Can be eaten inside our outside. Enjoy! Feeds 4-6 people.

This is so easy, even the most inadept men in the kitchen can cook this!

Bomba rice from Spain used in paella.
Bomba rice from Spain used in paella. | Source


Submit a Comment
  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Au fait, I am so glad you like this recipe. It truly can be made in one half hour. It is quick, easy and above all delicious. I am so glad I found this recipe. Yummmmmmm!

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 

    6 years ago from North Texas

    Thought I would stop back and pin this excellent recipe to my 'Main Course' board. It has all the ingredients to make this an excellent meal anytime.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Yes, Sangria with paella is so good! Glad you like this recipe. It is easy and fast to make and you don't spend hours in the kitchen. It tastes great - I buy the rice with the saffron already in the package - it makes the dish so much cheaper to make. I love paella and there are two cafes in Naples that make this delicious dish. I love to go to either one, and yes, with a pitcher of Sangria it makes for a great afternoon meal and visit with great friends. Thanks so much for visiting and for your comments!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    8 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

    Your easy to follow instructions tempt me to try making this dish. Paella is my favorite that I order when I go to the Columbia Restaurant or to Cafe Pepe's in Tampa. A nice pitcher of iced Sangria and some brown bread make this a wonderful meal!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Hi! This recipe makes paella very easy to make. I never made it either until I found this easy recipe. It is put together and cooked in 30-45 minutes which for paella is a short time. I eat it all the time now. Delicious! Thanks so much for reading. I enjoyed your comments.

  • algarveview profile image

    Joana e Bruno 

    8 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

    Hi, Suzette, it look delicious, I love Paella, maybe it's because I'm so close to Spain, but for some reason I have never tried cooking it myself. Now, that I have this recipe, I sure will try it. Voted up and interesting and sharing! Have a great day!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Try this sometime. This recipe is very easy to make and doesn't take much time. And, it tastes just as good as the paella done outdoors in Spain. Thanks so much for checking this out and I hope enjoy the recipe and making paella as much as I do.

  • LaThing profile image


    8 years ago from From a World Within, USA

    I love pealla, but never tried making it! This recipe looks kind of easy....thanks for sharing :)

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Yes, this is delicious and a great recipe for our busy, fast-moving times. This is also one of my favorite dishes. So glad you enjoyed this and learned something, too. Thanks so much for the visit!

  • unknown spy profile image

    Life Under Construction 

    8 years ago from Neverland

    One of my favorites! Pael yum yum!

    Used to beg my mom for this everyday :) this originates in Valencia, that's why they call it "Valenciana".

    Thanksss for the info!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Oh subbing with brown rice is fine. It might even be healthier. I use the rice that comes packaged with saffron already in it and it is always white rice. This is such a fun and easy recipe and tastes so authentic. I have family members with shellfish allergies, so I only do the meat paella, but you can add shrimp, clams, lobster etc and I'd is really, really good. Have fun with this and enjoy! Thanks so much for stopping by and for your input!

  • Au fait profile image

    C E Clark 

    8 years ago from North Texas

    What a great recipe! It sounds so versatile and quick to make too. There are times when I get a taste for brown rice Mexican style, and I think brown rice would work pretty well for this recipe too.

    I can never make any recipe even the first time without tweaking it, one of my short comings I'm afraid. Not sure if it's genetic or something I picked up along life's travels. ;)

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading about the history of paella and learning how to make a simple, quick, authentic Spanish dish. Voted you up and useful, interesting, and will share this hub with my followers.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    8 years ago from Taos, NM

    Do try it! It is delicious and you will enjoy it! Only about half an hour in the kitchen! I like it best with the shellfish in it. Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting!

  • alocsin profile image

    Aurelio Locsin 

    8 years ago from Orange County, CA

    This looks easy enough that even I can try it. Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    9 years ago from Taos, NM

    Thanks for commenting. I had to chuckle at your comment as most men stay as far away from the kitchen as possible - unless, of course, a woman is doing the cooking. This really is a speedy receipe and easy to make so you won't have to be there long. Enjoy!

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    I love paella, so in true tradition I will pass the recipe over to my husband!!! on second thoughts I could be waiting a long time! I'll make it myself!

    Many thanks for sharing.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    9 years ago from Taos, NM

    Yes, I know the Spanish history with the Philippines. I have seen the Paella Negra, but have never eaten it. Yes, the ink from the squid makes it black. I have eaten calamari en tinto, squid in the black ink, in Spain and it is delicious. This paella receipe is quick and easy - here in America we are into cooking easy, quick meals. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • kerlynb profile image


    9 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

    Many Filipinos love paella :) We usually serve it during large gatherings like family reunions.

    You might be wondering why Filipinos love paella, right? It's because Spain colonized the Philippines for 300 years, thereby influencing Filipino cuisine.

    You discussed here Paella Valenciana, which is just delectable. My favorite paella though is Paella Negra or Black Paella, which we cook with squids (thus the black color) and other seafoods.

    Thanks for writing this hub. Voted up!


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