Summer vegetable paella
Paella is one of my favourite meals to both cook and eat. It just sings of sunshine, of warmth, of seasonality and sharing. It is also full of flavour and tradition. I imagine most Spaniards learn how to cook it watching their parents as they cook with whatever vegetables are in season, meat has been bought or hunted and shellfish which has been landed. For some it is synonymous with those awful places that have photographs of microwave paella in the windows. For me it is more associated with family and festivity.
I got given a recipe several years ago by my sister in law Mar from her mother in Burriana, a beautiful town in Communidad Valenciana. I like to think I have remained pretty true to this but put my own spin on it with ingredients that I enjoy. After making the summer risotto I wondered how the flavours would compare in paella with the differences in cooking style and seasoning. I have to say that I think the paella just wins. In Valencia paella would traditionally be eaten as a lunch as it is considered too heavy for an evening meal. I think in the more northern reaches of Europe that don’t enjoy those temperate climes it can be eaten for either. But a big thank you to Juana Mari for her original recipe, it will continue to be well used.
You can use a frying pan or saute pan if you don’t have a paella but it won’t have the same ‘feel’ to it. Paellas can be picked up very easily and cheaply these days so it’s worthwhile investing in one if you are going to cook paella. I love serving it straight from the pan as shown, it adds to the sharing feel and saves on the washing up!