John and I have recently returned from the most fantastic of vacations! We were lucky enough to travel to Europe where we split our time between Spain, Italy and Croatia. Over the next several blogs, I will share some of these adventures – both food related and non-food related – with you!
Our first stop on our trip was Barcelona, Spain. Bustling on Mediterranean sea, Barcelona is chalked full of culture, beaches, churches, shops and restaurants. There seems to be at least one café/bakery and one restaurant on every block, so it wasn’t difficult to find places to eat.
For us, the sight-seeing highlight of Barcelona had to be the Sagrada Familia. Established as a basilica by the Pope in 2010, this massive and very impressive church is well into its second century of construction, scheduled to be completed in 2026. However, the church is quite near completion and John and I were absolutely stunned by the grandeur, beauty and creativity of the Sagrada Familia. The primary architaect of the church was Antoni Gaudi, the famous Catalan artist whose architecture can be found all around Barcelona. Although Gaudi devoted much of his time as well as his distinct modern style to the project, he passed away with only a quarter of the project complete. Subsequent architects and artists are helping to complete his vision.
While the completed church will have 18 spires, (for the 12 disciples, the 4 Evangelists , Jesus and Mary) currently, only 4 have been erected. However, it was an impressive sight to see these four spires reaching high into the sky. The impressive façade and entrances of the building are covered in statues, while portions of the exterior seem to be melting.
The inside of the Segrada Familia was enticing and unusual as far as what you expect to see in a typical church. Upon entering the building, you are struck by the massive pillars extending high to the ceiling of the church, with branches reaching out as if the pillars are trees. However, my favourite part of the whole structure was the stunning stained glass, with the blues and greens to capture the morning sunrise and the fiery reds and yellows positioned to catch the light of the setting sun. We were fortunate enough to catch the sunset, and the stained glass kept me mesmerized for some time.
Ok enough about the non-food attractions. I’m hungry!
As mentioned before, the food scene in Barcelona is bumping. You can find whatever you want there – Mexican, Mediterranean, Indian, Sushi, etc. – or you can stick to Spanish. Almost every restaurant in Barcelona was packed, with the peak hours late compared to Canada, around 9:00. But good things are worth waiting for.
From what I could tell, Spanish food seems to fall into two categories – seafood and tapas, with, of course, paella all over the place. The seafood is fresh and plentiful, with restaurants dedicated to fish, shellfish and seafood paella. However, my preference was the tapas – appetizer sized platters featuring cured meats, delicious cheeses, breads, vegetables, miniature sandwiches, patatas bravas and much much more. John and I would sit down and order several of these dishes – and of course enjoy them with some red wine sangria!
The Recipe: Paella
So to honour our visit to Barcelona, I would like to share my stove-top paella recipe with you. Yes, paella is traditionally finished in the oven, but if you don’t have the proper pan, this stove top version is an excellent option. It is a surprisingly easy recipe. I make mine with chicken and chorizo sausage, but you can really add whatever you like to the base recipe. Perhaps next time I will make a vegetable or seafood paella, such as the ones John and I sampled in Barcelona!
- Be sure to adequately season your chicken with salt and pepper before cooking!
- Try substituting the chicken with extra veggies such as asparagus, zucchini and carrots to make it more vegetable heavy.
- Try sautéing some shrimp in butter and adding to the paella as you serve
- The roasted garlic is a must – squeezing it out onto your paella is to die for!
My mom gave me this recipe a long time ago and we have been making it for ages, and I am glad to finally share it with you! Great for a regular supper or a dinner party, it will certainly bring a taste of Spain into your home!
Other posts in this series:
Part 2: Montserrat, Spain and Patatas Bravas
Part 3: Rome, Italy and Pasta Carbonara
Part 4: Florence, Italy and Bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine Steak)
Part 5: Croatia, The Dalmatian Cost and Pasticada
Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Paella Chicken and Sausage
Stovetop Chicken and Sausage Paella
1-2 whole garlic bulbs
2 + 1/2 cups Chicken stock
½ cup white wine
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
2 chorizo sausages, cut into rings
1 onion, minced
1 red pepper, sliced
1 large tomato,chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups Aborio rice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish
- Slice off top of garlic bulb, drizzle with oil and wrap in foil. Roast at 350 degree in oven for 30 minutes. You might want to do a second one if you are having a dinner party.
- Season chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In large 13-14 inch pan, heat oil. Add chicken, sauté and then add chorizo. Cook until chicken has browned, then remove meats.
- Lower heat and sauté onion for a few minutes. Add pepper and cook a few more minutes, then add tomato and garlic for another 5 minutes
- Add rice to pan and stir to coat. Stir in smoked paprika, and salt ( less or none if using salted chicken stock)
- Add meat back to pan, spreading meat and vegetables evenly throughout the rice. Pat mixture to evenly cover bottom. Do your best to cover all the chicken with rice.
- Increase heat and add wine, and chicken stock ( keep ½ cup for later) Unwrap roasted garlic and place in middle of pan. DO NOT STIR! Let liquid come to boil, place lid on, lower heat and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until no liquid remains. If rice is not done but no liquid remains then additional reserved ½ cup stock and cook for 5-10 more minutes.
- Garnish with parsley