Paella: The No Waste Dish + An Easy Recipe

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Make paella using the leftover veggies and meat or seafood from your fridge!

Today we are excited to welcome WOT reader Beatriz Garcia, Founder of Clan Kitchen here to talk to all of us about Paella!

You know that feeling. You have a few odds and ends left in your refrigerator and you don’t know what to do with them. Perhaps it’s leftovers from previous meals, or maybe it’s just some vegetables from the weekly shop. If you don’t use them then they go to waste.

The thing is … they don’t go together and there isn’t enough of any one ingredient to make a meal. The good news is that Spanish housewives solved this problem 200 years ago in Valencia, a region of Spain.  Amazingly the “leftovers” dish they created, has now become a signature dish of Valencia.

What is Paella

Paella (pronounced “Pah – EH – yah”) is widely recognized as the national dish of Spain, except in Spain where it is seen as Valencian. When you get down to it, paella is not a lot more than rice and whatever leftovers you have in your fridge.  Of course, there are some tricks to make it taste delicious, which I will take you through.

Firstly, paella helps by bulking up what you have. So if you have a few pieces of chicken, some vegetables, and an onion you can make a nice meal with little effort.

Secondly, paella lets you combine food that otherwise might not have gone well together, with the rice binding everything nicely. Finally, it makes the food into a different dish.  Kids like to complain about having leftovers from the previous day as it is “boring”.  By adding rice and creating a new dish it makes it more interesting.

How to make “Paella” the old-fashioned way

What should you use to cook paella? If you prefer the traditional Valencian way of cooking paella, you need a paella pan.  This is a wide and shallow pan that helps spread the rice out. This sort of pan can help produce the caramelized rice that the Valencians call “socarrat.”  You get socarrat when the bottom layer of rice burns slightly.  It’s delicious, but not very healthy!

The other advantage of a traditional paella pan is that it helps the rice come out fluffy, just like in Spain. If you go down this road, get the right size pan – a 14-inch pan serves 4-6 full meals, and an 18-inch pan serves 7-10 people.  Finally, make sure it’s the right material.  Probably not stainless steel – the socarrat can be a nightmare to clean!  Cast iron, carbon steel, or enameled steel work well.

Yet a paella pan isn’t completely necessary.  A large sauté or frying pan should be enough for 2-4 meals, depending on size and how much you eat.

Classic Paella

Servings 4


  • 2-3 lbs. of vegetables you have lying around
  • onion and/or cloves (and peppers - but you can manage without)
  • 2-3 lbs. meat or fish or seafood leftovers
  • 2 cups rice
  • 2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 stock cube (vegetable or chicken)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil


  • Fry the vegetables in a pan until they start to soften, then add the meat/fish/ seafood and fry in olive oil until these are cooked through.
  • Add the rice to the frying pan with the vegetables and meat/fish/seafood.  Half a cup of rice per person should be about right.
  • Add the turmeric powder.  This is what turns the rice yellow and makes it look more like “paella”.  If you have a turmeric root, you can also shave some into the dish.
  • Add water until the rice is completely submerged and bring to a simmer.  Add the broken-up stock cube.
  • Leave it simmering on medium heat until the water is mostly, or entirely, gone. Keep an eye on it to make sure the rice isn’t sticking.  If the water is gone and the rice is still hard, you will need to add water and simmer again.
  • ¡Y listo! - a new dish from leftovers.
Paella is definitely one of those dishes where the exact amount isn’t important. Remember the idea is to “get rid” of leftovers and food about to go out of date, so just throw what you have in.
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Written by Beatriz Garcia, Founder of Clan Kitchen. About Beatriz:

My name is Beatriz Garcia, I’m a mum and a housewife and I love my family more than anything.  I want to cook them healthy meals they enjoy, and I want to do it quickly! Ever since becoming a mum, I’ve found out how hard it is to find the time to do everything I need to!  Children (and a husband) simply eat my time – but then when they want to eat food what’s left to do?

To begin with, I simply soldiered on, but I realized as I went that there were things I could do to make my life easier.  I’ve never been a cook or a chef but I make it my mission now to provide my family quality food they enjoy, and to do it quickly!  I can’t do it for every meal obviously – there’s nothing wrong in sticking some fish fingers in the oven and boiling some peas, but I try as much as I can.

The “Clan” comes from Family and refers to the Kitchen being the center of the family.  It’s not just where you cook, but is often where you eat meals (or right next to where you eat meals).  It’s where you keep your children entertained as you try to prepare them some delicious food!

Clan Kitchen spends a lot of time on the tools you need to cook well.  Which Pots and Pans you use can make a difference to the speed of your cooking, and perhaps to how healthy it is.  Some people even claim that cookware can affect the taste!


Making this recipe? Be sure and share it with us on the WOT Instagram or Facebook!


by Camila Alves McConaughey