Pantry and Leftover Friendly “Paella”

I’ve never had an authentic paella.  I’ve never been to Valencia, Spain (where paella is the pride of the people). So, I call mine “paella” (with quotes) simply because I used the cooking techniques found in traditional paellas and did my best to match the flavor profiles I found online, but cannot guarantee that I did the authentic recipe justice.  I just know it tastes really good, and I needed to find another way to eat some of these leftover black bean patties because I didn’t want them to go to waste.  I had a couple peppers, some garlic and lots of onions on hand, so here’s what I decided to try with them!

Oh, and those who have read this blog before, know that I’m on a budget.  So, unfortunately, the prized ingredient in paella, saffron, is not included in my recipe because I simply can’t afford the world’s most expensive ingredient (when measured by weight). I also wish I had had some Arborio rice and some tomatoes to make the paella a little creamier, but overall, I’m really happy with how this dish came out – especially since I already had everything and just had to throw it all together!  My biggest goal with my paella was to make sure I got that special crusted rice on the bottom that paella is famous for.

Pantry-Friendly “Paella”:

Pantry-Friendly Paella


  • Large, heavy-bottomed skillet with lid (I used enameled cast-iron; if your skillet doesn’t have a lid, then you can use a couple clean towels to cover), medium saucepan, wooden spoon or spatula, knife, cutting board, measuring cup, measuring spoons (optional), stove top


  • 1 red and 1 green bell pepper, cubed (my peppers were huge, so 2 worked out well) – feel free to add as many vegetables as you can!
  • 4 small yellow onions, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4-5 black bean patties, crumbled
  • 4-5 Tbsp evoo
  • 6 cups veg. stock
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • Juice from 1 lemon, keep the rinds for garnish
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • A couple sprigs of fresh rosemary (can be optional, but it’s not the same without them!!)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. In the medium saucepan over med high heat, warm the stock so that it’s simmering and hot when you need to use it.  Over medium heat, give the skillet a good even coating with evoo.
  2. Once the oil is hot (it’ll ripple), add the onions and saute the onions 2-3 mins on their own and then add in the garlic and 2 big pinches of kosher salt.  Saute the onions and garlic for 5-7 mins, or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  3. Add the chopped bell peppers, a couple dashes of the black pepper, the paprika, basil, and lemon juice.  Let the flavors combine and cook the peppers about 2-3 mins, and then add the crumbled black bean patties. Your stock needs to be getting close to hot and simmering now.
  4. Stir in the uncooked brown rice and give the pan another drizzle of evoo.  Mine looked a little dry, so I added just enough to moisten it again, probably about 2 tsp.  Cook the dry rice with the veggies and stir for about 1 min.
  5. Stop stirring, but let the veggies and rice cook about 1-2 mins.  Watch it carefully and waft the steam to your face to smell it often.  You want to get a good crust on the bottom, so you will smell a slightly toasted rice smell, but you don’t want to burn it!! As soon as the smell starts to have a toasted scent, slowly start to add the hot stock, about a cup at a time.  The stock should continue to simmer in the hot skillet.  Try your best not to disrupt the rice and veggies by pouring too much stock too quickly.
  6. Let the stock simmer with the rice and veggies uncovered over medium heat until almost all of the stock is gone, or about 30-40 mins.  Once it looks like most of the stock is gone, but there’s still some little bubbles, you’re at risk for burning your rice again, so remove the paella from the heat.  If you’ve got fresh rosemary, add a couple of sprigs now, and throw in the lemon rinds you got your juice from (this garnish will add a seriously delicious aroma when you serve it!).  Let the paella sit covered another 15-20 mins, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  7. ENJOY!!

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