Here’s an unorthodox Italian-Spanish mash up that works: Toasty fregola pasta (that tiny orzo-like semolina pasta that’s been toasted so that it’s a mottled mix of tiny golden, tan, and brown bb-sized noodles), used as if paella rice and all the other makings of that crowd-pleasing paella: saffron, chicken thighs (in place of bunny rabbit), chorizo. Except our market didn’t have chorizo so I bought spicy Italian sausage and loaded it with pimenton de la vera. This made enough for two nights of dinners, plus a third day snack.
one package fregola (i bought the one at whole foods, i think it was a bit more than a pound; you can also substitute israeli couscous or orzo)
1 pound squid, chopped into bite size pieces.
1 pound chicken thighs, cut up into bite sized pieces
1 pound chorizo (or some other fresh sausage generously chorizo-ized with 2 tablespoons pimenton de la vera, aka spanish smoked paprika), cut into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 can anchovies, drained of oil and chopped
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
a big pinch of saffron crumbled in a 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Boil copious amounts of salted water and cook the fregola as you would any other pasta. Once it’s al dente, drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large pan (i used a 12 inch all-clad skillet) heat olive oil over medium heat until smoking. Add squid and cook several minutes, or until just tender (they should be white). Set aside in a big bowl. Add chicken thighs, season with salt and pepper, and brown on each side, about 5 minutes per. Cook until no longer pink on the inside and remove and set aside in the same big bowl as the squid. Add sausage and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes, then set aside (in that same big bowl). Add add garlic to pan and cook until fragrant and not quite brown, about 4 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and anchovies. Add saffron water, wine, and let simmer two minutes. Add cooked fregola, and a good glug of olive oil, along with a bay leaf and a cup of water. Mix in squid, chicken, sausage and chopped parsley. Reduce heat to medium. Cover pan with a lid a let simmer until all is hot and melded. Taste and add salt if necessary. If it’s to dry add a bit more water and cook until just right. When you’ve decided you like it, serve it up. When it’s time for leftovers the next night, put the fregola “paella” in a baking dish and reheat in a 425 preheated oven. The top will get nice and toasty and it’ll be a whole other dish. The next night, there should be one more serving which makes a nice midday snack for the kids, or a midnight snack for a gastroparent.