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What to serve with paella?

Cheesy Oysters Oct 23, 2007 11:53 AM

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. s
    susan1353 RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 23, 2007 12:34 PM

    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
      carswell RE: susan1353 Oct 23, 2007 02:29 PM

      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
        Brit on a Trip RE: carswell Oct 24, 2007 08:27 AM

        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
          DanielleM RE: Brit on a Trip Oct 25, 2007 06:46 PM

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

    2. a
      abud RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 23, 2007 01:37 PM

      brazilian collard greens?
      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
        Cheesy Oysters RE: abud Oct 23, 2007 01:59 PM

        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. kare_raisu RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 23, 2007 04:09 PM

        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. TSQ75 RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 24, 2007 11:36 AM

          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
            bbbron RE: TSQ75 Oct 24, 2007 02:01 PM

            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
              MMRuth RE: bbbron Oct 24, 2007 02:07 PM

              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
                Brit on a Trip RE: MMRuth Oct 25, 2007 12:40 AM

                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
                  TSQ75 RE: Brit on a Trip Oct 25, 2007 06:05 AM


                  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
                    MMRuth RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 06:10 AM

                    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
                      TSQ75 RE: MMRuth Oct 25, 2007 08:20 AM

                      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
                        MMRuth RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 08:22 AM

                        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
                          TSQ75 RE: MMRuth Oct 25, 2007 09:40 AM

                          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
                            MMRuth RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 11:58 AM

                            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
                        Chinon00 RE: MMRuth Oct 25, 2007 08:52 AM

                        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
                          TSQ75 RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 09:41 AM

                          isnt colonization an amazing thing? lol

                        2. re: MMRuth
                          Brit on a Trip RE: MMRuth Oct 25, 2007 11:33 AM

                          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
                          paulj RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 01:32 PM

                          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.


                          1. re: paulj
                            TSQ75 RE: paulj Oct 25, 2007 02:41 PM

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

                            1. re: paulj
                              kare_raisu RE: paulj Oct 25, 2007 04:51 PM

                              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
                            kare_raisu RE: Brit on a Trip Oct 25, 2007 01:01 PM

                            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
                              TSQ75 RE: kare_raisu Oct 25, 2007 02:41 PM

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

                              1. re: TSQ75
                                kare_raisu RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 04:52 PM

                                Are you alluding to the chinese food in china saying?

                                1. re: kare_raisu
                                  TSQ75 RE: kare_raisu Oct 26, 2007 06:48 AM

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

                                  1. re: TSQ75
                                    Brit on a Trip RE: TSQ75 Oct 26, 2007 09:10 AM

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


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

                                    1. re: Brit on a Trip
                                      TSQ75 RE: Brit on a Trip Oct 26, 2007 09:46 AM

                                      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. c
                      Cheesy Oysters RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 24, 2007 02:46 PM

                      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. TSQ75 RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 25, 2007 06:07 AM

                        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. Chinon00 RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 25, 2007 06:15 AM


                          21 Replies
                          1. re: Chinon00
                            stevuchan RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 11:07 AM

                            Crusty rolls with a nice garlic Aoli.

                            1. re: stevuchan
                              Chinon00 RE: stevuchan Oct 25, 2007 11:27 AM

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

                              1. re: Chinon00
                                TSQ75 RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 12:42 PM

                                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
                                  MMRuth RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 01:11 PM

                                  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
                                  kare_raisu RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 12:57 PM

                                  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
                                    Chinon00 RE: kare_raisu Oct 25, 2007 01:20 PM

                                    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
                                      TSQ75 RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 02:43 PM

                                      i say its whatever makes you happy

                                      1. re: TSQ75
                                        Chinon00 RE: TSQ75 Oct 25, 2007 03:22 PM

                                        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
                                          kare_raisu RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 04:54 PM

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

                                          1. re: kare_raisu
                                            Chinon00 RE: kare_raisu Oct 25, 2007 06:32 PM

                                            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
                                              kare_raisu RE: Chinon00 Oct 27, 2007 05:05 PM

                                              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
                                                Chinon00 RE: kare_raisu Oct 27, 2007 07:19 PM

                                                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
                                                  paulj RE: Chinon00 Oct 28, 2007 10:06 AM

                                                  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?


                                                  1. re: paulj
                                                    Brit on a Trip RE: paulj Oct 28, 2007 10:39 AM


                                                    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
                                        kare_raisu RE: Chinon00 Oct 25, 2007 04:46 PM

                                        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
                                          kare_raisu RE: kare_raisu Oct 25, 2007 04:53 PM

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

                                          1. re: kare_raisu
                                            Brit on a Trip RE: kare_raisu Oct 26, 2007 04:20 AM

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

                                            1. re: Brit on a Trip
                                              Cheesy Oysters RE: Brit on a Trip Oct 26, 2007 10:05 AM

                                              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
                                                MMRuth RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 26, 2007 10:12 AM

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

                                                1. re: MMRuth
                                                  Cheesy Oysters RE: MMRuth Oct 29, 2007 11:06 AM

                                                  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
                                                    OysterHo RE: Cheesy Oysters Oct 29, 2007 12:33 PM

                                                    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. c
                                  cauxier RE: Cheesy Oysters Jul 23, 2011 06:01 AM

                                  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
                                    Chinon00 RE: cauxier Jul 23, 2011 08:58 PM

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

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