A rainy day in Vancouver called for a warming bowl of veggie paella! Paella is easy to make, healthy and cheap (minus the saffron!) so makes for the perfect mid week meal. We added saffron to the stock to give it a distinct flavor and lovely golden color. Below we explore this delicious dish further and find out what makes saffron so special!
Many of us know paella as a spanish dish but more specifically it originated from Valencia in Spain. The name means "frying pan" in Valencia's regional language and refers to the large, shallow pan used to cook it! Arab conquerors brought rice over to Valencia and paella was then invented by workers in the fields that threw together whatever they had including vegetables, beans, duck, rabbit and even snails!
It has since been adapted and paella de marisco or paella mixta have become very popular with the addition of meat and seafood.
How is it cooked?
Traditionally it is cooked in a large, flat pan over an open fire to infuse it with a wonderful, smoky flavor. Bomba rice from the East Coast of Spain is used and often it is cooked for long enough that there is a layer of roasted rice at the bottom called socarrat. This is an amazing part of the dish with a nutty flavour and crispy texture (as long as it's not burnt!)
What spices and herbs are used?
Saffron! The super expensive spice often described as hay-like (see below for some fun facts!) Smoked paprika and sweet paprika are also added along with herbs such as thyme and parsley!
How did The Spice Messenger make it?
We sadly didn't cook our paella over a smoky fire but it still turned out absolutely amazing! We kept it simple with a veggie version, adding peppers, peas and tomato which gave it a sweetness. This mixed with the flavors from the saffron, smoked paprika and nutty socarrat really brought this dish to life.