Time in the kitchen, even a little is good-Seafood Paella

Any time I can get in the kitchen cooking up something is for me, a good time. I’ve recently started a full-time job with varying hours and I’ve been turning over the cooking to my husband and while it’s awesome to come home to a meal waiting for me, I miss the chopping of veggies and the sizzle of the pan. I know it will just take some time to adjust and I’ll be back to getting in a routine again with cooking up some amazing things. I have a list going in the back of my mind of what I want to cook so I know it’s coming. especially with the cooler fall weather coming.

One way to adjust to a busier schedule, which is seems everyone has coming into fall and then the holidays on the tail end of that., is to keep a stocked pantry and freezer.  Keeping things on hand that can be thrown together for a satisfying meal quickly after a long day is , for me, like winning the lottery.  Ok, maybe not totally but you get the idea. If you want to read more about what I keep on hand you can read my post I did awhile back on what I keep in my pantry and freezer here.

My cookbooks were screaming at me one day as I sat in the kitchen thinking over my menu for the week. It had been awhile since I had cracked one open. I reached for Nigella Lawson’s, “Nigella Kitchen, Recipes From The Heart Of The Home”.  I wanted something I had not tried from this book before but it needed to be something I could cook after work. In the chapter , “Kitchen Quandaries” I found a Pantry Paella recipe and decided that was perfect. There had been rumblings for me to cook a risotto but I just wasn’t feeling up to it but this would satisfy till I am seeing butternut squash and really start craving risotto. Which is not hard at all to make. Just lots of stirring. The following recipe says not to stir.

Now the recipe called for leftover pork, I had none. So I bought diced pancetta. The recipe also calls for frozen shrimp and frozen baby squid. If your lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s near you, I suggest buying the Seafood Melody. It’s got the shrimp, the squid and bay scallops in it. I love this product and keep it in my freezer for quick easy throw together meals.

Don’t be afraid of the saffron. If you don’t have it, skip it. It is an expensive spice but if you can afford it I say go for it. I buy mine, for less at Trader Joe’s.  I would not however skip the fresh cilantro. I did accidentally and found the cilantro in the back of my fridge and was wondering why I bought it. Oopps.  Lastly, you will see we decided to add in fresh local clams into our paella. If you do this , it is going to give it a little more liquid as the clams surrender their liquor. You could use mussels as well. I think I would do that next time as I am a bigger fan of mussels.

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Pantry Paella  by  Nigella Lawson

Serves 4

What you need:

  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup of cooking sherry
  • 2Tbls olive oil
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced ( I used 3 but we love garlic in my house)
  • 1 1/4 cups of paella rice or arborio (risotto) rice
  • 8 oz raw frozen shrimp, thawed
  • 3 tubes (1 cup) frozen baby squid, thawed and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cooked pork
  • 1 1/4 cups frozen peas
  • 2 cups chicken broth (organic and low sodium is best)
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges ( for serving)
  • small bunch of chopped fresh cilantro (for garnish)

What you do:

  1. Put the saffron threads into a small pan over medium heat with the sherry and warm them. Not letting the pan come to a boil. Leave to cool. Head the oil in a wide , heavy pan, cook the scallions for a few minus in the oil.
  2. Add the sliced garlic to the pan cook for a minute or so more. Add the rice, coating it with the oil, and then the shrimp, squid, pork and peas. Give everything a good stir in the oil. ( I added my clams now as well)
  3. Heat the broth and add the hot broth to the pan, followed by the warmed sherry and saffron. Stir to mix and bring back to a bubble, then turn down to simmer and leave uncovered.
  4. Cook without stirring for 15 – 20 mins or untill the rice has absorbed the broth and should be tender.
  5. Fluff with a fork, check seasoning.
  6. Serve with a wedge of lemon and sprinkling of cilantro.


Pantry Paella


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