This week we made Paella to celebrate Seb’s sister Anna’s birthday. We bought a special pan for Anna from a store called The Casual Gourmet – but you could probably use a large frying pan.
Paella is a rice dish from Spain that is well known around the world. It originated in a region called Valencia in eastern Spain. Valencian people prepared the dish with whatever ingredients they had on hand – rabbit, snails and vegetables. We quickly learned that there are many different versions of Paella, and that it really is all about what’s on hand in the garden. So, we used what we had stored from summer’s “garden” like Green Being Farm sausage, one of our ducks (not the backyard ones), vegetables from our garden (onions, broad beans, peas, tomato paste). And then, of course we used rice, not from our garden but essential for the dish. As we couldn’t find Paella rice, we tried arborio and it worked great! This is just one of the Paella videos we watched to figure out how to make it. There are many great ones out there. We opted out of using the red dye and paprika that some of the Paella recipes call for- but we did use a minute amount of the precious secret ingredient: saffron!
Saffron is totally nuts- it is the tiny “stigma” of a flower, that has to be hand harvested from the flower- making it the world’s most expensive spice- one ounce is approximately 14,000 tiny stigmas or threads! Apparently it is best to soak it for a while before you use it but we didn’t do this, and it still turned the rice a beautiful golden colour.
With all the oil used in this dish I certainly couldn’t eat this every day, but it sure was a special treat! Also, I would definately suggest adding the beans and peas near the end as they get overcooked in all that time. For dessert we had Barbara’s homemade lemon squares, inspired by With the Grain lemon squares, but gluten free and using less sugar!