Pick n Mix Paella

When child #1 was small, she was a very fussy eater. Meal times were a constant battle. She would refuse to eat certain breakfast cereals, hated bread and if you asked her what she would like for dinner she’d almost always ask for chicken nuggets.

One year we were on holiday in Dingle, we popped into a pub for a bite to eat. The waitress came round and asked for our order, the child always ordered for herself and announced (at the top of her voice as kids do..) “I want CHIPS and SPUDS!” The waitress didn’t know what to say and we had to try and explain to the child that you could have one or the other not both!

By the time she got to Senior Infants I was at the end of my tether trying to get her to eat “real food”. One day I just happened to be in a book shop with my mother-in-law, she had a book voucher and was looking in the cook-book section, when I spotted Annabel Karmel’s After School Planner and decided it was worth a shot.

Well she was delighted that this book was designed especially for her and was keen to try a lot of the recipes featured. One of the first we tried was Annabel’s Paella and I was shocked to learn that she loved it. Since buying the book we went from strength to strength and she will now try anything that is put in front of her. I’ve said since then that it was probably the best €20 I’ve ever spent!

Adapted from a recipe from After School Meal Planner by Annabel Karmel, it has been nicknamed Pick n Mix Paella in our house. Some of us like chorizo, but don’t like peas. Some like peas but don’t like prawns and so on. So we just keep the bits we like and take out the bits we don’t!

What you need:

1 tbsp oil

1 onion finely chopped

1/2 red pepper

1 clove garlic

125g sliced chorizo

1/2 tsp smoked or ordinary paprika

200g long grain rice

3 tomatoes (de-seeded and cut into 1cm cubes)

500ml chicken stock

1tbsp tomato puree

pinch dried chilli flakes

pinch salt

75g peeled prawns

110g frozen peas

3 spring onions finely sliced


Heat the oil in a fairly large saucepan and saute the onion and red pepper for about a minute.

Lower the heat and cook, uncovered for about 10 minutes or until softened.

Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Turn the heat up to high and saute the chorizo for 2-3 minutes.

Add the smoked paprika and the rice and cook gently for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes.

Mix together the stock and tomato puree and pour this over the rice.

Give it a quick stir and add the chilli flakes and salt.

Cover and cook over a low heat for 12 to 15 minutes or until the rice is tender (check cooking instructions on the packet)

Add the prawns and peas for the last 2 or 3 minutes. Finally stir in the chopped spring onions.

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