Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seafood Paella

My kids attend an awesome and extremely diverse elementary school. So when asked to organize this year's PTO social, I immediately thought the potluck should have a theme to celebrate the beautiful multicultural heritage alive in our school community.

The potluck was a success with dishes from a great variety of countries. Boy Scouts provided babysitting so parents could enjoy themselves. There was live music, delicious food and deserts, and good fun for all.

Getting dinner for the family, helping kids with the homework and making an extra dish for the potluck is not easy so I chose something that wouldn’t take me more than half an hour to make. To make the dish simple and fast, I used frozen deveined and peeled shrimp and frozen calamari rings. And instead of using fish and shrimp stock (made with the shell of the shrimps), I used chicken stock that I had on hand. Turning a delicious dish into a very simple dish for any middle of the week dinner.

Fast and Simple Seafood Paella

½ lb frozen calamari rings, thawed
1 lb frozen deveined and peeled shrimp, thawed
About 1 cup onion, diced
2 cups tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
½ Tbsp garlic, crushed
About 1 small or ½ large red bell pepper, sliced in think long strips
¼ cup parsley, diced
About 4 to 6 cups of chicken, fish or shrimp stock, hot
About ¼ to 1/2 tsp saffron, crushed
A pinch of sweet red paprika (optional)
About 1 cup frozen peas
About 2 ¼ cups rice
Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in paella pan over medium high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 1 minute.

Add calamari and let cook for about 5 minutes mixing from time to time.

Add shrimp and mixing to make sure that it cooks equally on both sides, let cook for 3 minutes.

Add garlic, red peppers and parsley, letting it cook for about 2 minutes, mixing frequently.

Add tomatoes and let cook until tomatoes start falling apart.

Remove seafood and red peppers from the pan, put on a plate and set aside. I like to keep inside the oven (turned off) to keep it warm.

Add about 4 cups of fish stock to the mixture that stayed on the paella, the saffron and frozen peas. Let it come back to a boil.

Test for salt, add salt if needed and pepper.

Add rice and let cook for about 10 minutes in medium low heat. Cover if you would like.

Turn the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes or until rice is cooked, adding stock or water if needed little by little. An authentic paella will have a toasted rice bottom, but if you think your guests won’t appreciate that, keep mixing rice around, adding stock as needed.

When rice is cooked, add back seafood and red bell peppers and mix with rice carefully. Make sure to reserve some red pepper strips and shrimp to decorate your paella. Let cook for a few minutes minutes more.

If you going to take to a potluck like I did, cover with aluminum foil to keep heat until you are ready to serve.

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