What Is Paella and How To Make It Vegetarian - Jamie Geller

Paella is the quintessential Spanish dish. Brimming with history and as casual as the people of Spain, the dish has many versions and each one with merit. 

Some sort of rice, pasta (as in the Jewish version Fideuá Paella), or cauliflower (for the carb-conscious Americans) as a sauce soaker-upper; saffron; smoked paprika (a relatively new addition); herbs; and filling.

There is something very welcoming and homey when sitting around a large paella. Like opening a present, the dish beckons each diner to dig down into the pan and scoop up a savory, smoky ladle of delicious saffron rice, vegetables all cooked in a fragrant winey-broth, and ahhh, the perfect bite; the palate opens. Each bite of paella is my favorite because everything is bathed in broth that is scented with spices. I think that is the only rule of paella. You must create a delicious broth and after that, to each his or her own. 

The classic paella pan is a large round and shallow pan. This allows the rice or pasta to become crispy and stick the bottom of the pan to create soccarat. Soccarat is the caramelized layer at the bottom of the pan and is highly prized. Everyone tries to scoop down deep and scrape up some of the toothsome layer. If you’re a paella newbie, I hope your mouth is watering now! Fat rice, swollen with saffron broth, gooey, and stuck to the pan...YUM!