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What to serve with paella?

I'm making paella for guests and need a side dish. I have young kids so don't really want to do a separate salad or soup course. I have a really good chard recipe with currants and anchovies that I thought I could make but can anyone else come up with something better to go along with paella? I'm all set on apps and dessert.

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  1. Paella really stands on its own and I wouldn't introduce a lot of different flavors. The anchovies and currants sound good but would overwhelm the paella. If you want something green on the side other than a salad, how about some grilled lettuces (radicchio, endive, etc.) for color and flavor.

    3 Replies
    1. re: susan1353

      Yep. Salad or other dishes before or after but the only thing you should serve with paella is a good young Spanish wine (dry white, rosé or medium-weight red) and plenty of it.

      1. re: carswell

        As others have said, paella traditionally has no accompaniement. But, if you need to serve one, then it doesnt matter what you serve as authenticity is no longer relevent.

        1. re: Brit on a Trip

          Agreed. Get some good bread with some Spanish Olive Oil. That is the only proper side dish i can think of.

    2. brazilian collard greens?
      http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
      it has bacon but usually the bacon taste doesn't overwhelm the dish just make it tastes better, as bacon has been known to do.

      1 Reply
      1. re: abud

        That looks good. The anchovies and currants in the chard recipe end up tasting pretty mild but this sounds really good. Thanks for both ideas.

      2. I recently made paella and I served it with fried pimentos de padron. If you cannot find these and are able to locate sweet italian green peppers they taste almost exactly the same.

        Although I have to say a vinegary or lemony salad is really nice in complemementing the paella.

        1. everytime my grandmother made paellea, and everytime i do, its always served with either a basic tossed salad, or my favorite, fresh sliced avocado drizzled all over with fresh garlicky limey mojo, and some red onion slivers...mmmm

          also, some nice fried plantains...ripe or green

          21 Replies
          1. re: TSQ75

            Exactly. Authentically paella is served with fried plantains (then again, in some parts of the world EVERYTHING is served with fried plantains!!)

            1. re: bbbron

              I'd venture a guess that paella is not served w/ plantains in Spain - much as I love tostones. I think a nice salad would do the trick.

              1. re: MMRuth

                I'd venture a guess that, in Spain, you would never find paella served with anything!

                I'd also venture a guess that that you would never see a plaintain served in a Spanish restaurant with anything (at least, not a restaurant serving Spanish food). You might see a banana served with Arroz a la Cubana - but it's not a requirement of the dish - and makes it even more vile than the basic version, IMO.

                1. re: Brit on a Trip

                  well...

                  while paella has its origins in spain, it is equally as prolific in the Spanish-colonized caribbean, and therefore serving it with something decidedly caribbean in nature doesnt detract from its all-gloried "authenticity."

                  besides, who says there are rules anyway? who says i cant serve some fresh vegetable gyoza along with my paella?

                  1. re: TSQ75

                    I think Brit on a Trip and I were just questioning the statement that "Authentically paella is served with fried plantains". I actually haven't noted paella as a prevalent dish in the parts of Latin America - and the Dominican Republic - that I've visited, other than in Spanish restaurants. And I agree, people can serve whatever they choose with it!

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      well, its quite a common dish in Cuba, DR, and PR...for a fact. even parts of coastal mexico. I and many others grew up with it.

                      much the same way alot of people are quite perplexed when i mention cuban, or dominican tamales.

                      1. re: TSQ75

                        Interesting - and I wasn't questioning what your experience, just saying that I'd not seen it- or tamales in the DR for that matter! And it's not called asopao (sp?)?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          asopao is sort of a stewy/soupy arroz con pollo. total comfort/peasant food.

                          check out this site...she's got lovely simple dominican recipes http://www.dominicancooking.com/

                          1. re: TSQ75

                            The one with camarones is my favorite - I was wondering if in some places maybe people called asopao paella for some reason, but it sounds like that is not the case.

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        To me that is one of the tragedies of food from the Spanish speaking world; we kind of assume that it can be lumped together into one thing. I friend of mine offered take a buddy to a Spanish restaurant to which the buddy responded "Oh I love quesidillas!" Well in that instance the person was just very ignorant about the cuisine of Spain. But even here on this post we see something similar with the suggestion of plantains as an "authentic" side to paella. Nothing is less European and more Carribbean than plantains.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          isnt colonization an amazing thing? lol

                        2. re: MMRuth

                          You're right, MMRuth, I was.

                          I've never travelled to the Caribbean but I do regularly visit Spain (it being only a couple of hours flying away).

                        3. re: TSQ75

                          Would a person from Spain recognize a Caribbean 'paella' as paella? It may be rice cooked with a variety of vegetables and meats, but if it doesn't use saffron, a short grain Spanish rice, or is cooked in a shallow pan over open fire, is it paella? I know that many parts of Latin America prefer to use a long grain rice cooked in a pilaf style (i.e. toasted with onion, peppers, etc).

                          I know the closest thing to paella that I saw in Ecuador (years ago) was 'arroz a la valenciana' - Valencia style rice. Arroz con camarones was also popular, but that was more like a simple shrimp fried rice.

                          paulj

                          1. re: paulj

                            you people are waaay too "by the book," good lord.

                            1. re: paulj

                              No saffron - bijol or achiote replacement in the carribean. Certainly similar teqniques involved. I think paella refers to the pan in its original pure form.

                              There is an interesting pork and rice dish from the Alicante region - which finishes in the oven with an egg crust called smth like Arroz con Costra.

                          2. re: Brit on a Trip

                            Brit is right - fried plantains / bannanas are a traditional accompniment to arroz a la cubana - a different rice dish (with eggs over easy)- though it could be made in a paella pan qualifying it as a paella. (See Casas books)

                            I don;t know if anyone here has been to Fuerteventura or any of the canary Islands - but it is a staple crop here - so may be included amonf other rice dishes.

                            1. re: kare_raisu

                              coming from a cuban..I have NEVER heard of "Arroz a la cubana." lol

                              1. re: TSQ75

                                Are you alluding to the chinese food in china saying?

                                1. re: kare_raisu

                                  no. saying i have never heard of a dish called "Arroz a la Cubana."

                                  1. re: TSQ75

                                    Google will get you about 50k hits. This is one:

                                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arroz_a_...

                                    No need to try the recipe. It is a truly unpleasant concept with or without banana.

                                    1. re: Brit on a Trip

                                      dude, i have seriously never had that! and my abuela never fixed it! lol

                                      i do have a soft spot for plain leftover white rice with a fried egg on top...but its never had anything else! wow...

                    2. Well I was in Trader Joes and grabbed some artichokes. I was going to look for a endive recipe and then decided the chokes would be good as an app and veg. Thanks for your ideas.

                      1. also, i generally always begin the paella meal with a nice cheese selection, usually always with the traditional caribbean queso blanco, some nice crackers, and a small bowl of fruit preserves. it goes beutifully with a sharp white cheese. Quince is traditional spanish, guava is a nice creamy selection too.

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            Crusty rolls with a nice garlic Aoli.

                            1. re: stevuchan

                              Why would you need any more starch with all that rice is my question?

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                which is why, while i love tostones, i generally put out a platter of fresh sliced avocados or tomatoes, drzzzled with lovely mojo

                                1. re: TSQ75

                                  In the DR, where rice and beans are served at pretty much every lunch at my mother-in-law's house, the menu often includes tostones, yuca fritters or another "second" starch - this is making me hungry!

                                2. re: Chinon00

                                  Because it tastes good? If you ever have the opportunity try tacos de papas (potato tacos) or if you are really lucky - a tamal torta (mexican miner food - tamal in between a roll).

                                  1. re: kare_raisu

                                    But paella is a rice dish and not a taco or sandwich. It would be like serving dinner rolls with shrimp fried rice or a risotto.

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      i say its whatever makes you happy

                                      1. re: TSQ75

                                        I hear ya' but don't ya think that the OP would appreciate a response or suggestion that was a little more precise than "whatever makes you happy"? I mean it doesn't take a chowhound to give that level of advice does it?

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          easy now - you wrote 'nothing' -come on the guy is just looking for ideas.

                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                            Yes, but to me "ideas" must go beyond personal whim and be based in some erudition. When I suggest “nothing” it is due to the fact that paella is comprised typically of pork and chicken and seafood and peas and rice all swimming is a deep rich broth of saffron. There is nothing naked about this dish. There is no need for compliment or contrast other than a nice glass of wine and good company.
                                            Sure we can do what we like and suggest what we want but the educated choice to accompany paella is “nothing”.

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              I have to say I agree with you - when I make paella - thats all I have on the table. However, I doubt you can make the claim of 'nothing' as being an 'educated' choice when the OP is specificially asking for side dishes.

                                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                                I simply do not believe that "nothing" is an unreasonable side dish for paella. And particularly when it is part of a multi-course meal.

                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                  Would it be correct to say that Americans think in terms of a main dish and sides, especially for home cooked meals, while Spanish are more likely to serve the items in separate courses?

                                                  paulj

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    paulj

                                                    No. Spaniards would usually serve, say, potato and veg on the same plate as the protein - as we do in most of the rest of Europe. The multi-course meal is really only a feature of Italian cuisien, with the anti-pasta, pasta, main, etc (leaving aside the mezze dishes of the Eastern Mediterranean countries)

                                      2. re: Chinon00

                                        Its a rich rice dish - plain bread may serve to cut this richness but this could also be done with a plain vegetable. By no means the only choice.

                                        The idea with those examples is 'carb-on-carb' : I like the idea - especially due to the historical and sometimes not so historical poverty angle of cuisine.

                                        1. re: kare_raisu

                                          I know for certain that their are recipes in Spain with potatoes cooked with rice for what its worth.

                                          1. re: kare_raisu

                                            In my experience, bread is ALWAYS served alongside meals in Spain.

                                            1. re: Brit on a Trip

                                              Well that is just dandy because my other app other than the artichokes and aoli is toast points with ricotta mixed with some freshly ground black pepper and proscuitto. I decided to just serve the paella as the main with no sides. Didn't really want a side just didn't want to do a soup or salad course. I'm happy with apps instead. Dessert is pear and apple crisp with ice cream.

                                              1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                                                That sounds delicious! Hope you didn't mind our heated debate on the issue!

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  Not at all. The first time I made paella in my 15" paella pan, it came out the best. The last two times is has been dryer that I like. Maybe it is because I used cut up chicken the last two times instead of a whole fryer. Next time I'm going to go with boneless skinless thighs.

                                                  1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                                                    I went to a cooking class/demo for a paella dinner a while back and the chef made camarónes con ajo served over croustade as an appetizer. None of us had any problems devouring the food and none of the flavors conflicted.

                                3. Agreed with mostthat a side is unecessary, although a salad is probably a good bet.

                                  Would recommend serving a spanish tortilla (egg, onion, potato) cut into cubes served as an appetizer / tapas while people drink wine and enjoy watchign you make the paella.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: cauxier

                                    No green peppers in the tortilla? I can smell now.