Summer Shortcut Paella
Summer Shortcut Paella

I first fell in love with Paella at a Cuban Restaurant in Detroit.  Rice, veggies, and seafood are usually the major components of this dish.  (I have a seafood allergy, so I omit the seafood).  My favorite part of paella is that its dynamic, you can modify it depending on what is in season.  I’ve also heard it called the Spanish version of fried rice, which seems fitting in this case.

Paella is often considered complicated and uses ingredients that many people do not keep on hand.  This version uses ingredients that are easy to find. I do recommend using a white rice for this dish.  While I use brown rice in almost everything I make, I feel like the white rice absorbs the flavors better. I used zucchini and string beans in my summer version of this dish because they are in season.  In season produce tastes better and is cheaper.  Use what you have on hand or what is in season.  You can even substitute frozen veggies.  Keep in mind the more veggies you add, the more you bulk up this dish.  (This means you can have more!)

This can easily be a vegan or vegetarian dish.  Substitute ground chicken, veggie crumbles, or even white beans.  (Make sure you have protein to keep this a one pot meal!)

Prep time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Servings: 5-6

To eat well on a budget, its important to keep a stocked pantry and spice cabinet.  This recipe contains Saffron, which is expensive.  If you don’t already have it- don’t buy it just for this recipe.  It does make a difference but the other spices make up for it.  Calories and cost are based on 85% lean ground beef and 5 servings.  (Using beans instead will cut costs and calories.)

Cost Per Serving $2.06

Calories Per Serving 383


1 Cup Jasmine or White Rice

2 cups water plus 2 tsp ‘Better than Bullion’ OR bullion cubes

OR 2 cups chicken stock

1 14oz can diced tomatoes- no salt added

1 chopped red bell pepper

1 chopped zucchini

1 and 1/2 cup string beans cut into thirds

1 chopped medium yellow onion

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 sprigs saffron (optional)

2 tsp tumeric

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pound seasoned protein (see below).

1/4 cup dry white wine

Seasoning for meat/ chicken/ veggie crumbles

This is similar to Chorizo seasoning, you can substitute the sausages instead if you prefer.  

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp garlic powder

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1- Prep Your Protein

  • 1- Start by browning your protein.  (I use grass-fed beef because we buy it in bulk from a farmer.)
  • 2- Add your seasonings and mix in so that your protein absorbs the seasonings.
  • 3- Add your vinegar
  • 4- Cook until browned or until most of the vinegar is absorbed, remove from pan, drain excess liquid

seasoned meat

2- Start your rice

  • 1- Add 1 cup rice to 2 cups water (or chicken stock)
  • 2- Add 2 tablespoons Better than bullion, if using water
  • 3- Add 2 sprigs saffron
  • 4- Bring water and rice to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
  • 5- Cook 20 minutes or until water is absorbed

rice pot

3- Begin your Paella

  • 1. Add olive oil to the pot you cooked your protein in
  • 2. Add chopped onions and red pepper
  • 3. When the onions start to soften add other veggies; zucchini and green beans, etc. Cook 3-5 minutes
  • 4. Add garlic, canned tomatoes, and seasoned protein.
  • 5. Add 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5. Simmer for 10-15 minutes
  • 6. Add cooked rice and stir.  (Fluff rice with fork before mixing)
  • 7. Add tumeric
  • 8. Simmer an additional 10 minutes


Shortcut tools I used in prep:

Microplane for garlic

Onion ‘Hold ‘n Slice’

Can Strainer for tomatoes

Better than Bullion- Vegetarian Chicken Base

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onionCan strainerbetter than