Classic Spanish paella is guaranteed to get you in the mood for summer. But it can be enjoyed all year round, served everywhere from street food stands to restaurants devoted solely to Spain's signature rice dish. Reading has a dedicated paella restaurant in the town centre with the brilliantly named ilovepaella, while Londoners can enjoy Time Out's 'best paella outside Spain' at Farringdon's Oh'Lola Spain. But this sunshine dish is popular all over the country, and La Tortilla serves up sizzling plates of it from their restaurant in Inverness.
This simple rice dish originally comes from Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. In the 1800s, chicken and rabbit meat were added to the rice, and it started out as a farmers' dish, cooked in a 'paellera' pan over an open fire.
Check out the Chicken Paella for two from ilovepaella for a sense of how traditional farmers' paella tasted. Chicken, beans and vegetables are sautéed in huge pans till soft, then infused with paprika, saffron and rosemary. Water is added to make a broth, and then rice is added near the end to soak up the flavour without being fried. The result is a classic, and wouldn't be out of place in the Valencian countryside.
Variations on the Spanish staple
Thanks to its long stretches of pristine coastline, Spanish paella is often packed with seafood. It's a twist on the traditional farmers' recipe, but has a beachy allure to it that we can't resist.
Oh'Lola's seafood paella is filled with ocean-fresh ingredients cooked up in heavy and shallow pan. Find it loaded up with prawns, baby squid, calamari rings and swordfish, and studded with shiny mussels around the outside.
If you're looking for something lighter though, vegetarian paella will hit the spot. La Tortilla makes much smaller single paella portions, which can be enjoyed either as a side or tapas. Paella de verduras switches out meat for bright tomato, green runner beans and tender courgette. Add sweet peas and a twist of lemon, and you've got the perfect base for your tapas meal.
Don't think rice dishes are limited to risotto or egg-fried rice. Eat punchy paella from the comfort of home thanks to Deliveroo.