I know, I know. I’ve been on a paella kick lately. Dinner time comes around and that paella pan just calls to me! I promise I’m going to branch out to other things, but this was so darned good that I just had to share it with you.
When I’m looking to try new things, I typically look at published recipes and then change them up to make them my own. The recipe I’m sharing today is actually a vegetarian selection. I added chicken and chicken stock to the recipe (since I had some skinless chicken breasts I needed to use up). Another reason I chose this recipe is because I had a load of fresh spinach that needed to be used up before it spoiled. A new year’s resolution I made was that I would not be throwing out stuff from my refrigerator this year!
The color of this paella truly is emerald. From the spinach, to the green peppers, and finally the stuffed green olives… oh my this is yummy! The green olives add that salty tang that just pops in your mouth, and in addition to the saltiness there is the toasty flavor of pine nuts too. Win win!
Emerald Paella (Paella Esmeralda)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in small pieces
- 1 ½ TBSP chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp saffron
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 4 – 6 TBSP olive oil
- 4 TBSP pine nuts
- 1 large onion, chopped fine
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 medium green pepper, chopped fine
- ¾ cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
- 5 cups spinach leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
- 1 ½ cup short grain rice, Bomba or Valencia rice
- ½ cup grated Manchego or Parmesan cheese
Combine chicken stock, parsley, basil, saffron, and cumin in a pot and warm over low heat.
Heat paella pan or large skillet and add 3 TBSP olive oil. Sauté the chicken until just cooked through and remove from pan.
Add pine nuts to pan and toast. Watch as these can burn quickly. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper and sauté until tender. Add the olives and the spinach and cook for several minutes until the spinach wilts.
Add the rice to the pan with another TBSP of olive oil (if needed) and coat the rice with all of the ingredients. Add the cooked chicken back into the pan and pour the warm chicken stock over the rice mixture.
Cook for 25 minutes until rice is plump and cooked through and all the liquid is absorbed. You may need to add a cup of water if your liquid cooks down and the rice isn’t done.
Remove from heat and mix in the cheese. Allow to cool for several minutes before serving.
To make this vegetarian, just delete the chicken and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.
I paired this dish with a Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider. I love the combination of the slightly sweet cider with the saltiness of the paella. You could also pair it with a nice fruity white wine. Enjoy!