It turns out I had nothing to worry about but because this dish completely exceeded any expectation I had on what a grain free paella would taste like. The flavours are spot on, exactly like traditional paella and the texture is similar to the Spanish rice dish, but a whole lot lighter due to the substitution of cauliflower. I was even able to get the cauliflower rice to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan, my favourite part about traditional paella.
This dish is very easy to make and incredibly versatile. In this recipe I used pancetta, chorizo, chicken and prawns but you can really use a combination of any meat or seafood you have on hand including pork, beef, fish, mussels, shrimp or squid. To keep the texture of this dish as similar to rice based paella as possible, be sure to only pulse the cauliflower for a few seconds in the food processor so the rice is quite coarse (not fine and powdery like cauliflower couscous).
This is a terrific mid week dinner (the left overs are great to take for lunch the next day) but is equally as impressive as a dish to serve to guests. I hope you enjoy!
- 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped pancetta
- ¾ chopped spicy chorizo
- 6 prawns, heads removed by shells still on
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ red pepper, chopped
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- pinch of salt
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- ⅓ cup white wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- 1 head cauliflower (3 cups cauliflower rice)
- ¼ cup frozen peas
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- lemon wedges
- Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat. Place the cubed chicken in the frying pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to ensure nothing burns. Add in the chopped pancetta and chorizo and cook until the chorizo has began to brown and the pancetta has become crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken, chorizo and pancetta from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
- Place the prawns in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Once pink, place in the bowl with the other cooked meats.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add in the diced onion, red peppers, garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onions and peppers begin to soften and then add in the paprika and saffron. Stir the spices through the mixture and then add in the white wine, chicken stock and tomatoes. Let simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and halved in volume.
- While the sauce is cooking, cut the cauliflower into chunks and place in a food processor. Be sure to only pulse quickly so that the cauliflower pieces are the size of rice and not smaller (it quickly turns powdery which you don't want to happen).
- Turn the heat to high and place the cauliflower rice, peas, chicken, pancetta and chorizo in the pan with the sauce, stir and then cover to allow the cauliflower to cook for approximately 5 minutes until the rice becomes tender but not mushy and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Before serving arrange the prawns on top of the paella and sprinkle with the chopped parsley. Serve with a slice of lemon.