Paella, With An Italian Twist

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Italian style paella I make no claims to be an expert in paella making, in fact I’ve only attempted to make an authentic version once, and it turned out just ok. I much prefer to put an Italian twist on my own version of paella. You see I’m not such a big fan of saffron, which so happens to be one of the star ingredients in traditional paella. It’s not that I dislike it, I just hardly ever cook with it, so it’s not really a “go to” spice for me.

So instead of flavoring my rice with saffron which by the way produces a beautiful color and unique flavor, I like to flavor my rice with a roasted red pepper puree. Not conventional, but it does taste amazing and it creates a beautiful golden red color to the rice.

making Italian style paella In the past I’ve made and posted here on my blog, an all Vegetable Paella, a great party dish, main course or side. This time I wanted to change it up and do something different by adding a mix of Italian sausage and chicken, some red and yellow peppers and broccolini.

making Italian style paella After you saute your onions and garlic you add in your rice with red pepper puree and then spread and flatten the rice to cover the bottom of your pan. I use a wide 14″ paella pan with a hard anodized bottom. Now have some fun and place and arrange creatively all your colorful ingredients around the pan.  The last thing you do is carefully ladle warm broth on top of everything.

Italian style paella The end result is a spectacular pinwheel of color, delicious rice, a one pan meal that has a WOW factor with really not much effort at all, providing you do a little prep work beforehand.

Italian style paella Paella is the perfect party dish, put it in the middle of your table and everybody digs in! I can’t wait until the snow melts because the next one I make will be out on my grill. maybe with some seafood.

Italian style paellaItalian style paella I hope you try my Italian version of paella, I think you’ll love it as much as we do!

Paella, With An Italian Twist
  • 2 chicken legs, skin on, browned
  • 2 chicken thighs, skin on, browned
  • 3 big pieces of Italian sausage links, browned then cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 red and yellow pepper, cut into strips and pre-roasted (400 F. Drizzled with olive oil)
  • 1 bunch of baby broccolini, pre-boiled for 5 minutes then placed in an ice bath to retain color
  • 1½ cups of rice, a short grain like carnaroli or arborio
  • 4 cups of chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 cup roasted red pepper puree, store bought or made by using 4 red peppers, blistered, peeled, cored and then placed into a food processor until pureed.
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 medium onion, large diced
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, shaved
  • grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • olive oil
  1. Start out by browning your chicken pieces in the paella pan, get a nice crust on both sides and almost cooking it through but not quite, set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pan of excess oil, then do the same for the sausage links removing excess oil as well.
  3. Drizzle olive oil in pan then add in your shaved garlic and onion, saute until soft and golden.
  4. Toss in the wine and let it cook down for a minute.
  5. Add all of the rice and half, or a little more, of your red pepper puree. Toss until coated then flatten rice mixture on to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Sprinkle rice with a handful of the grated cheese, some salt and pepper.
  7. Take sausage chunks and arrange around the pan along with the chicken pieces.
  8. Creatively arrange the rest of the veggies all around the meat.
  9. Carefully ladle all 4 cups of warm broth on top.
  10. Take a pastry brush and brush the top of the chicken with more red pepper puree for added flavor and dotting a little more all around if you want to.
  11. Cook medium low, covered loosely with foil until moisture disappears.
  12. Place covered pan in the oven at 375 for 15- 20 minutes to make sure the meat is cooked through.
  13. Finish on top of stove until rice is desired tenderness.
  14. Total time, around 45 minutes or so.
  15. Let it rest for a few minutes.
  16. Garnish with chopped fresh basil and parsley.
  17. Feeds 4 generously.


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  1. Once again, your food feeds the eyes as well as the stomach. I really must try this. Thanks, Marie

  2. Love the Italian version of this classic dish Marie.

  3. Did anyone ever tell you that you are a genius? This is fantastic! pinning it! xo

  4. This looks so delicious. I am not sure if I like saffron – it is so darn expensive that it makes cooking with it a budget buster. I try to use flavorful ingredients that stays within a budget.

  5. Edward Szczerba says

    They say a picture can tell a thousand words,well I think you’ve beat that record!! I’ll be sure to make this paella!! Thank you!!

  6. This looks spectacular, Marie! I love the Italian twist of flavor that you gave this paella. It looka so c.olorful and delicious

  7. Marie – I think you must have been an artist in another life. Your food looks like an artist’s palette. The pepper puree is a masterful stroke to getting the color and flavor that you miss from omitting the saffron. Love it.

  8. Wow, this looks absolutely fabulous!! I used to live in Spain and I LOVE Paella. Can’t wait to try your version.

  9. I LOVE THIS! Wow! I can’t wait to try this! As someone deathly allergic to crustaceans this is a great alternative!

  10. Great Day in the Morning! Is that a fabulous idea! My family LOVES broccolini….rice…..chicken……sausage……oh everything in there! Looks sooooooooooooooooooo gorgeous! this is a fabulous, fabulous creation!

  11. I’m half Italian and half Spanish so I’d go with either version. Brilliant to use red pepper puree for flavor and color and your presentation is spectacular
    P.S. I sent you an email a few days ago but have not heard back. Did you receive it??

  12. All I can say is WOW! This is stunning, I can’t pin it fast enough <3

  13. Your paella is a positive riot of color, Marie. It is beautiful, and I bet it tastes divine. My niece married a Spaniard, and she adores paella. I’ll have to pass this on to her. I bet she will love it. Every time I look at the food you prepare and read your accompanying articles, I want to sit right down and eat what you have presented. Brava!

  14. I made this for my meat-loving family members and made your veggie paella for my vegetarian family members. For the first time in a long time all members gave a very definite thumbs up. Both were easy to make and will definitely be made again, sooner rather than later. Yum. Thanks, Marie, for your genius with wonderful food.

  15. Oh, this is a work of art. Love red pepper flavoring idea!

  16. Lillian Amplo says

    Made this over the weekend with skinless & boneless thighs, hot and sweet sausage and broccoli rabe. It was awesome and there was more than enough risotto left for an awesome leftover re-do using portobello mushrooms, ricotta and mozzarella. Delish! Will make this again! Thanks Marie! Baci!

  17. this looks like a beautiful colorful work of art lovely looking meal. you do eat with your eyes first ♥

  18. Alex Babbitt says

    I very rarely comment on any site, but this is the fourth recipe of yours I’ve made and each one is better than the last! Keep up the great work and I am defiantly looking forward to trying more!!!!! Thanks and your an inspiration!!!