Paella is the perfect dish to unite a crowd — and we have just the recipe to do it

“It all starts with the actual pan ... its roundness is inclusive and brings people to the table.”

“It all starts with the actual pan ... its roundness is inclusive and brings people to the table.”

(Photography by Ryan Szulc)

Amy Rosen’s cookbook, Toronto Eats: 100 Signature Recipes from the City’s Best Restaurants, features so many mouth-watering dishes from one of our country’s most bustling food cities, but this paella recipe from Spanish kitchen Carmen really had us drooling. A pillar of Spanish cuisine, paella is loaded with fresh seafood, golden saffron and studded with vegetables. It’s the perfect choice for any dinner party, and not just because it won’t have you scrambling in the kitchen seconds before the doorbell rings. Read on to see why chef Luis Valenzuela Robles Linares thinks paella is an ideal dish for uniting a crowd. The recipe calls for Arbequina olive oil; use a milder olive oil in its place — or any you have on hand.

Paella del Carmen

Intro by Amy Rosen | Recipe by Luis Valenzuela Robles Linares

Launched during Toronto’s great Spanish reawakening of 2013, when tapas and paella were on everyone’s lips, Carmen Cocina Española (co-owned by Veronica Carmen Laudes and chef Luis Valenzuela Robles Linares) was leading the charge with garlicky charcoal-fired shrimp and paellas that taste like the crusty beauties in Valencia. “It all starts with the actual pan,” says Valenzuela of his signature vessel. “There is something very special about the paella dish; its roundness is inclusive and brings people to the table.”


  • 2 tbsp Arbequina olive oil
  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs, cut into quarters (ask your butcher to do this)
  • 1 semi-cured chorizo sausage, cut into quarters
  • 6 shrimp (e.g. B.C. spot prawns), heads on
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • ¼ red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ yellow or green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ small zucchini, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup halved snow peas
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1 cup bomba rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock, divided
  • ½ cup snap peas
  • 1 cup mussels, cleaned
  • 1 cup clams, cleaned
  • 6 basil leaves, for garnish
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish


Heat olive oil in a large paella pan or frying pan on medium. Add chicken and cook for 20 minutes, until well browned. Transfer to a plate. Add chorizo and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate. Add shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until shells are opaque. Transfer to the plate of chorizo and set aside.

In the same pan, add onions and cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until translucent. Add peppers, stir, and cook for another 10 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini, and snow peas and cook for another 10 minutes. Add paprika, salt, and saffron, and then stir in rice.

Return chicken thighs to the pan, add 1 cup stock (enough to cover), and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Gradually add remainder of stock, ½ cup at a time, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add snap peas, mussels, and clams, cooking for 5 minutes, or until clam and mussel shells have opened. Leave the pan of rice undisturbed (to release the gluten in the rice, which gives the paella a nice starchy finish). Discard any clams or mussels that have not opened.

Return chorizo and shrimp to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. You want to build a light crust, known as socorat, at the bottom of the pan, which is the prized part of the paella. 

Turn off the heat and let the paella rest, covered, for 5 to 8 minutes before eating. Scatter basil leaves over the paella and serve with a lemon wedge.

Copyright 2017, Amy Rosen; reproduced with permission of Figure 1 Publishing. Recipes copyright by individual restaurants. The recipe’s headnote has been condensed.

Servings: Makes 4 servings


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