After my post on regular paella, I expressed my desire to work on a paleo version and received some great interest. So without further ado, Paleo Paella!! All my keto friends out there are also going to love this as it is low carb. Don’t worry vegan friends, this recipe is EASILY converted to a delicious vegan version. I heard you all!
Those of you out there who have made paella, know that it can be a lot of work. Especially the Paella Mixta (mixed paella) as the majority of the proteins have different cooking times and also require extra prep time. I decided to keep things a little more simple for this recipe and just use chicken and chorizo. This really cut a great deal of time out of the prep and cook. I guess I didn’t realize how much time it actually took to do all of those proteins. And for my vegan friends, this is going to be quicker than ever!!
The base of this recipe still comes from the heart of my Paella Mixta recipe, I just substituted some different veggies and used boneless chicken breast as opposed to bone in chicken thighs. The Sofrito is the same. It’s the heart of the dish and I didn’t want to alter it. As with my Paella Mixta recipe, you can use the BBQ or the stove. It’s completely up to you. A charcoal BBQ will add some nice charcoal flavour, though but temp may be harder to control.
The protein. I always partially precook the protein (Vegan friends, please skip to next paragraph). I do this for a couple of reasons, I want to make sure the chicken or larger chunks of meat will be cooked thoroughly by the end. You don’t want to be three bites into the best paella you’ve ever made and nosh into an undercooked chicken chunk. Also, giving it a quick sear seals in the juices and gives it a nice presentation at the end. I lightly cook the sliced chorizo before the sofrito for another reason. The spice. The spices that come out of the chorizo will infuse the oil in the pan, which the sofrito is added to. This blends that beautiful chorizo spice throughout the dish. I am salivating already! Don’t cook it too much, as you will be adding it at the end to finish and you don’t want dry protein!
Sofrito time. I always, always, always grate my tomoatoes on a box grater and throw out the peel. You don’t have to if you prefer not to, but I don’t like the tomato skin chunks floating about and messing up my presentation! I want the rice (or in this case the cauliflower rice) to take on that beautiful red colour and be the base for the dish. If you cooking the vegan version, you will add 1 tbsp of smoked paprika to the hot oil before starting your sofrito, to mimic the flavour of the chorizo. Trust me. Do it.
Once the sofrito is thickened, I add the broccoli and romanesco(or any other hard veggies you may want to try). If you can’t get romanesco, just double the amount of broccoli. It’s very close to the same flavour profile. I let this cook for a bit until starting to turn a darker green. At this point I add the cauliflower rice and stir to incorporate completely. I then sprinkle the ½ cup of broth with saffron theads over that, stir, then add the balance of the warm vegetable broth.
Now is the fun part, the decoration. I like to arrange the chorizo slices evenly around the pan and press them into the cauliflower rice slightly. On top of that I add my chicken strips and pepper strips in a pattern all around the dish. If you are doing this, start at “12 o’clock” in the pan and work your way around clockwise. Or, just do what you want. I’m not your boss. This is your dish. Be creative and have fun.
Let this cook now until the liquid is absorbed and you start to hear a little crackling. I wasn’t brave enough to try to get a good soccarat (crust) on the cauliflower at the bottom of the pan as I didn’t want to risk burning it, and ruining the dish. For those of you out there that are more brave than me, please try and let me know how it is. I love doing it on a rice paella, so I can’t imagine it will be any different here. If you don’t want to tempt fate and just pull it when the broth is absorbed, you’re still going to have an awesome dinner. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done a great job. Try that crust next time or the time after when you feel a little bit more confident about the dish. That’s what I am going to do. If you are going for it, my only advice would be to keep an eye on it. Something tells me this will burn faster than rice would (why I didn’t attempt it on my first couple of runs).
To finish, I sprinkle on some chopped chives, or chopped parsley, and you can squeeze on some fresh lemon or lime juice. Then I revel in my presentation and plunk it down in front of my waiting guests. Or just eat it out of the pan before it gets to the table and the kids dive into it. Doesn’t matter, the most important part is tasting your creation.
Just as a tip, you could also half this recipe and do it in a fry pan. If it’s just you, you don’t need all of those leftovers……. Or do you?!?! Also a good idea to have all of your ingredients prepped and your broth heated BEFORE you start the paella. Trust me, once things start rolling, it’s going to be hard to break away.
As always, like, comment, share, enjoy. Till next time, stay awesome.Print
- 2 cups tomatoes grated
- 3 cups of vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup scallions
- 1/4 cup garlic scapes or 4 cloves
- 2 chicken breasts sliced in strips
- 2 chorizo sausages sliced into rounds
- 7 cups riced cauliflower
- 2 cups romanesco (or sub broccoli)
- 1 cup broccoli
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- cut the chicken breast into strips (I suggest ¼-3/8” thick. One good trick is to partially freeze(not solid!!) the chicken so that it is easier to slice).
- slice the chorizo into ¼” rounds
- slice the red and yellow peppers into strips about ¼” thick
- slice the broccoli and romanesco into smaller bite sized florets
- grate the tomatoes on a box grater into a bowl and discard the skin that is left
- slice the scallions (and garlic scapes if you are using them or grate the garlic cloves on the fine holes of a box grater)
- add a pinch of saffron threads to a small hot skillet and allow to toast for a minute or two.
- add a ½ cup of the broth to the saffron and turn of the heat allowing the saffron to “steep” in the broth
- warm the remainder of the broth in a pot and keep warm on low
- heat your paella pan (or skillet) on the stove to med-high or BBQ to roughly 400 and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil
- (non-vegan method)when the olive oil is hot, add the chicken and cook until starting to brown
- (non-vegan method)flip and slightly brown the other side
- (non-vegan method)remove the partially cooked chicken and set aside
- (non-vegan method)add the sliced chorizo
- (non-vegan method)cook 1 minute per side then remove from the pan
- (vegan method)add 1 tbsp of smoked paprika
- add the scallions to the flavoured oil and saute until translucent
- add the garlic (grated or scapes) and saute with the scallions until browning
- add the grated tomatoes
- add the salt and pepper and stir to incorporate
- reduce the heat on the stove to med or bbq to 350 and simmer the sauce until thick (stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick or burn)
- add in the broccoli and romanesco and cook until turning darker green (about 1 min)
- add in the cauliflower and stir until completely incorporated
- sprinkle the ½ cup of steeped saffron broth over the cauliflower rice
- add the remainder of the broth to the pan and stir to incorporate
- allow some of the liquid to cook off
- (non-vegan method)add in the chorizo slices evenly around the pan and press lightly into the cauliflower rice
- (non-vegan method)add the chicken strips (starting at “12 o’clock”) in even intervals clockwise around the pan.
- add the pepper strips to the pan (starting at “12 o’clock”) in even intervals clockwise around the pan between the other ingredients on top.
- allow the dish to cook now until the broth is completely absorbed (and the protein is cooked thoroughly)
- you can remove at this point and have a great paella OR you can leave it a bit longer and try to get the cauliflower to crust on the bottom like you would in a traditional rice paella. It’s up to you!
- garnish with chopped chives, parsley, and lemon/lime juice
- eat and be proud