Paella is one of those wonderful one-pot meals with peasant origins. Traditionally, paella was cooked over an open fire in the fields when workers took a break for lunch. The ingredients depended on what was available and could include everything from chicken to rabbit. Coastal areas of Spain popularized the addition of seafood, again whatever catch was available.
The most expensive ingredient is the saffron, yet I know of no suitable substitution. The good news is a little bit of saffron goes a long way and stores well in your refrigerator.
Paella can be a healthful dish, but the recipes I found were time consuming. Not to be discouraged, I experimented with ways to serve paella with minimal fuss. My hasty tasty version of paella uses a 6-quart pressure cooker and mostly frozen ingredients. From start to finish, the meal takes just about half an hour to cook.
Hasty Tasty Paella
1 cup uncooked brown rice¹
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1½ cups frozen pepper stir-fry
1 ¾ cups chicken stock or broth
6-8 saffron threads
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ pound frozen shrimp, cleaned and shelled
½ pound frozen sea scallops
½ cup frozen peas or mixed vegetables
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
Brown the rice in the olive oil over medium heat in the bottom of the pressure cooker pot.
After rice is browned, add the pepper stir-fry, broth, saffron, paprika, and chicken. Secure lid and bring to pressure.
Cook under pressure 15 minutes.
Remove the cooker from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own for 10 minutes. Then carefully release pressure and remove the lid according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Remove the chicken to a cutting board for slicing. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Return cooker to medium heat and add remaining ingredients. Cook just until seafood is cooked, approximately 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink.
Remove cooker immediately from heat and stir in sliced chicken. Transfer paella to a large shallow serving bowl or individual bowls and serve.
Yield: 4 generous servings ¹Do not substitute white or yellow rice for brown rice. Anything other than brown rice will overcook.
Variation: Use fish or mussels instead of or in addition to the shrimp and scallops.