Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Paella-Style Rice with Ham and Shrimp

The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend. 

~Terri Guillemets

This one-skillet dinner is inspired by traditional Spanish paella. Paella is a traditional dish of Spain. Its home is Valencia, but variations exist in the different Spanish provinces. A colorful mixture of saffron-flavored rice and various meats, paella's name comes from the paellera, the flat, round pan in which it is cooked.

Saffron is one of the most precious spices in the world, retailing for more than $500 an ounce. It is so expensive because it is an extremely labor-intensive crop. Crocus sativa, or the saffron crocus, flowers in the fall. Each flower has three tiny, threadlike stigmas in the center. Saffron from Iran is considered the best in the world. To order or learn more about this spice go to
I have been hoarding this tiny,tiny tin of Saffron for months waiting for the right recipe. Its weight 1 gram and I paid $7.95 at the co-op.
 You might be surprised at what saffron looks like-threads of a rusty type color. 
So here's the good news. Recipes call for using very little saffron. Saffron kept in a covered container lasts a very long time. The expiration date on mine is 2021!!   
Serve the dish with a crusty bread. Recipe adapted from Midwest Living. Serves 4-5

  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2 TB. olive oil or lemon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped orange or yellow sweet mini peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 cup cubed cooked deli ham, 
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 tsp. ground saffron, 1 tsp. smoked paprika or 1 tsp. regular paprika
  • 2 Tb. chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Thaw shrimp, if frozen. Rinse shrimp and pat dry; set aside. 
  • In a large skillet, cook shrimp in 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp are just opaque, turning once halfway through cooking. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside.
  • Add remaining oil to the skillet along with pepper, onion and celery. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add rice and garlic; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and carefully stir in the water or chicken broth and ham. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  • Add the snap peas; cook, uncovered, 2 minutes more. Stir in cooked shrimp, saffron and tomatoes. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Bon Appetit!

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