Paella, With An Italian Twist

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.



Vegetable Paella, Italian Style

I have a 14″ paella pan that I got from HSN many years ago, it was a Todd English pan, I think he makes a different one now but you can still get it. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve used that pan, I’ve made so many things in it. I love it for frittatas, they come out perfect in it and you can feed a ton of people. You can use it on top of the stove, in the oven or under the broiler. When ever I need to bring a big side dish somewhere I often use my 14″ paella pan. I recently made a huge primavera pasta pie in it, which I’ll post about in the near future. I think I’ve only used it once to make an actual traditional paella, saffron and all, with chicken, seafood and sausage.

By now all my regular readers know the”veggie issues” that I have, and since I needed to bring a side dish to someones house recently I decided to make a  vegetable paella with an Italian twist. I’m here to tell you it was a big hit!

I’ve always been attracted by the way paella looks, pinwheels of color all in one pan, it’s very impressive looking when it gets placed  on the table!

With small amounts of veggies and a little bit of rice you could recreate this for your next party, serving it as a side or a main course.

There is no saffron here in my version, instead I infused the rice with roasted red pepper puree which gave it my little Italian twist.

Hope you like it!

vegetable paella

Vegetable Paella, Italian Style
  • 1½ cups of short grain arborio rice
  • 4 cups of warmed chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup of roasted red pepper puree made from 4 peppers, blistered, peeled and cored and placed into a food processor until pureed.
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 each, red, yellow and orange bell pepper cut in strips
  • 8oz. crimini mushroom caps
  • 1 bag frozen artichoke hearts
  • a handful of haricot vert beans
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • olive oil
  • grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • chopped basil for garnish
  1. 14" paella pan or a wide skillet, if smaller just adjust rice by 1 cup
  2. Roast the eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, artichokes and the peppers ahead of time, and set aside. 400F drizzled with olive oil.
  3. Purchase or make your own red pepper puree, have that ready made also
  4. Drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil, saute the garlic and onions until light golden, add rice and stir until coated then add in ½ cup of the roasted red pepper puree and stir until mixed through.
  5. Smooth rice until it is flat all over the bottom of the pan, then gently pour in the heated broth being careful not to move the rice, sprinkle with a generous helping of grated cheese, a little salt and black pepper.
  6. Arrange all your veggies on top of the rice and broth in the order that you would like, sprinkle with more grated cheese.
  7. Let it cook med low until moisture starts to disappear then cover with foil until rice is tender, mine took about 40 minutes, you might have to add a little more broth just keep checking. Dot some of the remaining pepper puree all around for added flavor.
  8. Garnish with fresh chopped basil and a drizzle of olive oil
  9. Note: You might have a few extra veggies left over after you fill the pan