Tastes Like Summers in Spain – Paella Dinner for the Whole Family

Nothing takes us to the beautiful Spanish countryside faster than the smell of paella.  Just one whiff brings images of families gathered outside with a huge pan simmering on an open fire, laughter filling the air as adults catch up with a glass of rioja and the kids play as the sun sets over the Mediterranean.

Summers in Spain might seem like a faraway dream, but with minimal effort and supplies it is easy to re-create this dreamy scene with your family and friends wherever you may be.

Originating in Valencia, Spain, paella is one of the most recognizable and re-recreated dishes in the world. With hundreds of variations, you can prepare this meal to accommodate anyone’s preferences or allergies. I’ve always thought of it as a seafood dish, but it was originally made using mixture of chicken, rabbit and snails with beans!

The word paella (pronounced “pa-e-ya” with the “e” as in “bet”) actually refers to the pan it is cooked in, not the dish itself. You can pick up a paella dish at any gourmet cooking shop, or online.


lobster and shrimp paella from Rancho la Puerta

With the hundreds of ways of preparing paella, its hard to decide which is the best. While we usually freestyle, NoshBlog has an excellent set of directions for campfire paella. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

(This recipe is for a 13.5 inch pan.  Increase rice to two cups and total liquids to 4 cups for 15 inch pans)
1 (15 oz) can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) bag peeled shrimp
1 teaspoon paprika (plus more as desired)
salt and black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
2 large links of chicken andouille sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more as needed)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 large pinch saffron threads
1.5 cup bomba rice (you can sub arborio or valencia)
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken broth
Serve with lemon wedges and freshly chopped Italian parsley


Paella lessons at Barraca Toni Montoliu in Valencia from Marina Kuperman Villatoro

The best part about cooking paella is how communal the whole experience is. Everyone can pitch in – from helping to build and mind the fire (kids LOVE to help with this. It may sound dangerous, but with guidance and supervision it is an amazing way for them to build confidence) to preparing ingredient, and of course eating together, it is an excellent excuse to spend time outside under the the stars while camping, on a beach, or your own back yard.


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