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Sunday Dinner: Easy Paella

Paella is a Spanish dish which traditionally involves rice, saffron and olive oil with various meats or veggies. It’s great as a single-dish meal because it contains all the food groups you need. There are a few tricks to keeping it simple and inexpensive:

Floral plate with silverware
  • You don’t need a paella pan. A large, flat skillet will do.
  • Saffron is expensive. Some people insist it’s necessary, but many say that tumeric and paprika will do just as well.
  • Or you may be able to find prepackaged saffron rice that’s not terribly expensive.
  • You can buy several of the ingredients precooked to save time without sacrificing flavor.

There are tons of paella recipes online. You can take this dish in so many directions, depending what you like. You can make it vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth (and whatever you like for meat). You can make it with chicken, shrimp, scallops, mussels, sausage or any combination thereof. You can get the meats pre-cooked by using deli roasted chicken or frozen seafood. You can use frozen veggies. That’s what this recipe does. If you want to cook any of the ingredients separately, just factor in the extra time you’ll need for that.


  • 3 pounds of the meat of your choice (1 pound each of skinless chicken, shrimp and scallops works well)
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces stewed tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups parboiled rice (like Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped


  1. In a large saucepan or skillet over medium-high heat, bring your chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat and let it simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, and let it stand another ten minutes.
  2. Sauté your peppers, onions and tomatoes in a tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the vegetables get tender. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Now stir in the rice for one minute. Stir in the chicken broth, then add pepper, tumeric and paprika. Cover the skillet, reduce heat, and simmer for fifteen minutes.
  3. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in your meat. At this point, it’s traditional to sprinkle peas over the top, but if you’re not wild about peas, forget about it.
  4. Cook everything together, covered, over medium-low heat for twenty minutes or until all the liquid gets absorbed.

You can serve it with lemon or lime wedges if you like.