Paella (pronounced pie-AY-ya) is recognized as one of the most famous rice dishes ever. The name “paella” derives from the Old French word for pan. Today, the pan is called a paellera. It is round, shallow, and made of polished steel with two handles.
Rice dishes originated in Asia and, along with pasta, were brought to northern Mediterranean countries by the Moors. The Moorish casseroles of rice and fish established the custom of eating rice in Spain. By the 15th century, when Catholics expelled the Muslims from Spain, paella had become a national staple made with rice, fish, artichokes, tomatoes and various spices/herbs including saffron, garlic, sweet paprika, and salt.
Because my vegetarian version uses pre-cooked rice, this recipe only takes 25 minutes to make from start to finish. Best of all, the flavors still have a chance to meld so the aroma (and taste) is wonderful. When you lift the cover for the first time and take a whiff, you’ll see what I mean.
Prepare asparagus by breaking off and discarding the woody ends. Cut tender asparagus into 2-inch long pieces.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 cups cooked white rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
6 to 8 saffron threads
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes (diced)
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup carrots (sliced thin)
1 cup zucchini squash (cut into ¼-inch slices)
1 cup yellow squash (cut into ¼-inch slices)
1 cup marinated artichoke hearts (cut into quarters)
2 cloves garlic (pealed and minced)
1 package Lightlife Smart – Italian Style Sausage (sliced into ¾-inch rounds)
2 teaspoons olive oil
Heat oil in a large paella pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add artichokes, squash, zucchini, carrots, asparagus, peas, tomatoes, saffron, paprika, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add rice, broth, and bouillon. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more or until liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat, remove bay leaves and stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve in the pan while still hot.