Paella any time of year!

You could really make paella with any kind of vegetable or meat, and eat it any time of year. But this is paella with peas and mussels, so it belongs to the springtime when peas are in season. But if you use frozen peas, they’re good too, and any time of year will work. Or try making paella in the summer with cod and zucchini and bell peppers, or in the fall with pork sausage, chopped tomatoes, eggplant, and mushrooms.

How to make Paella:

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Chop an onion and and saute the pieces in the olive oil. Add two cloves of crushed garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. (If you’re using sausage or cod, brown them in the onion.) When the onion is soft and transparent, add a cup and a half of rice and stir it around in the olive oil for a minute. Then add a cup of tomato sauce and two cups of water (or chicken broth, or vegetable broth) and stir. Leave the pot alone for about ten minutes, tasting occasionally to see if the rice is done. If it starts to smell burned, turn the heat down a little.

Meanwhile, shell your peas (or chop your vegetables if you need to). When the ten minutes are up, add the peas (or vegetables) to the rice, and stir again. Leave the paella alone another ten minutes. If the rice soaks up all the water, add a little more.

Meanwhile, pull the little beards off the mussels. Remember to only use the ones that are closed, or that close when you tap them on the side of the pan. Open mussels are dangerous and should be tossed out. When the rice is soft, distribute the mussels on top of the rice and cover the pan so the mussels steam. When the mussels open up, the paella is done. Serve hot, with a green salad on the side.

Vegan or vegetarian?

Not as written, but if you add canned chickpeas instead of mussels, it will be vegan. I’d add more vegetables too, in that case; maybe spring greens like broccoli rabe.

Will paella keep?

Yes, it will be even better the next day, and good for lunches for several days more. But you’d better eat the mussels right away.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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