What goes with paella or what to serve with paella is something to take into account when you look for the full paella experience.
Despite the fact paella it’s definitely a complete dish by itself, that doesn’t mean that you can’t pair it with other side dishes. And that’s it when you are making paella for someone else mainly for guests.
However, Paella does stand on its own and I wouldn’t introduce many different flavors. Thus, we know this very well in Spain, and we combine paella and tapas. As you might know, tapas are served before the main side.
I like paella so much that I prefer not to eat tapas or starters so I can have more room for paella.
In this article, you will learn what is served with paella, either food, and wine.
What is Traditionally Served With Paella?
As I said before, paella is traditionally served with tapas, as appetizers. We know tapas are basic for a proper paella with family, friends or even work colleagues. Then, we choose carefully what is served with paella so the whole meal is perfect and not too heavy.
Considering this, beside tapas, nothing will be best that a light salad with olive oil, olives, lettuce, tomato, canned tuna, cucumber, onion egg, white asparagus…
Gazpacho is a typical Spanish dish, originally from the south of Spain. Gazpacho Andaluz is a cold soup, or more appropriately a whipped salad, with ingredients such as olive oil, vinegar, water and other additives such as almonds or raw fresh vegetables, usually tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and garlic.
It is usually served fresh in the hot summer months, but it is always a great starter for paella because is light, tasty and full of vitamins.
Once all these ingredients are mixed in a recipient, just grind and blend well with the mixer and leave to cool in the refrigerator until serving time.
In addition, you can finely chop fresh vegetables on top before serving.
Never something this healthy was so delicious
This salad and/or gazpacho will be accompanied by not too filling tapas.
What is Tapas?
Tapas is a classic of Spanish gastronomy that nowadays has reached the whole globe. They are small portions of food to accompany a drink (wine, beer or cider are the most common). They were born as slices of ham or cheese but today you can find small works of culinary art under the name “tapa” in the menu.
In the words of Miguel de Cervantes, tapas were a kind of alarm clock to thirst and the desire to drink wine or any other drink. Besides, tapas are defined by the Real Academia Española as a “small portion of some food that is served as an accompaniment to a drink“.
Just as the definitions and versions of the term are varied, so are the stories of the origin of the famous “Spanish tapas“. One of the theories assures that they are born with a well-defined objective: to prevent the wine from rising too quickly to the head of the diners and ending up with a good drunkenness.
King Alfonso X “El Sabio” was the one who regulated that in Castilian mesons it was forbidden to serve wine without accompanying it with some portion of food: slices of ham, chorizo or cheese, generally.
Which Tapas to Serve with Paella?
Chips or crips and salted fried peanuts, pistachios, almonds… are usually present on the table while waiting for paella.
Olives are, very much in their essence, an important and recognized part of the Mediterranean diet. Whether as a central element of the dish or as an essential decorative complement to it, the presence of this fruit in an immense variety of recipes is as undeniable as it is necessary, and certainly not by chance.
Who in Spain hasn’t ever had the classic bowl of olives accompanied by a delicious cold beer?
Due to its great variety and the intense and pleasant taste of this small fruit pillar of the Mediterranean diet, tapas with olives is a real delicatessen and have become one of the most popular snacks in restaurants and tapas bars nationwide.
Grilled cuttlefish with garlic and parsley is a well-known dish in Spanish cuisine, usually prepared in this way and presented in small portions to share dressed with oil and smashed garlic, and parsley.
The recipe for grilled cuttlefish is extremely easy to make. The result is a light dish, rich and ready in five minutes; to share with friends along with a good cold beer while waiting for the paella.
Croquettes are simply a breadcrumbed and fried roll of food leftovers (usually), normally bound with bechamel sauce or mashed potatoes. Good croquettes are crunchy on the surface and soft and melting on the inside.
Although they may not sound like a gourmet invention, when made well, they are delicious.
You can find a wide range of croquettes in Spain specializes in croquettes, a culinary tradition stemming from its frugal past. The most popular versions are:
- Ham Croquettes (Serrano)
- Cod Croquettes
- Pulled Chicken Croquettes
- Shrimp Croquettes
- Mushroom Croquettes
Croquettes aren’t especially light, and they need a while to be made. However, either frozen or fresh, a couple of them per person is a great tapa.
Spain is one of the countries with the most varieties of cheese in the world, along with France and Italy, but I don’t know why both French and Italians have much more fame and popularity. So: Long live the Spanish cheese! We love Spanish Cheeses!
In Spain, we can find sheep cheese, cow cheese, and goat cheese. Fresh, semi-cured or cured cheeses. Smoked cheeses, cheeses cured in wine, beer, paprika, or rosemary. There are more and more traditional producers who, in small cheese factories, make more personal and original creations.
Then, the tapa can be simply some pieces or slices of chosen cheese on a plate, to be eaten alone.
Serrano ham or Iberian Ham is a must on every table while the paella is being mad and the answer is easy: paella and ham have lived together for a very long time.
There are few foods that are more Spanish than ham. Spanish ham (jamón) is the one food that all Spaniards, by default of just being Spanish, have to like. Whenever I have heard a foreigner say they do not like jamón, the response of every single Spaniard has been, “But have you tried the good stuff?”
The two most important hams that distinguish themselves as wise and well-minded visitors are Serrano ham and Iberian ham. The difference between them is not their geographical origin. Instead, the label refers to the breed of pig used to make the ham. Although the name Jamón Serrano refers to its origin in the Sierra (mountains), it is used for all types of smoked ham from the normal (pink) pig breed. For the more exquisite Iberian ham, the rather rare species of black Iberian pig is needed. The purer the breed, the more expensive the ham.
As well as cheese, the tapa is very simple. Just offer it sliced on a plate, maybe accompanied by sliced bread or similar.
Prawns or Shrimps
Either it’s a seafood paella, paella Valenciana or meat paella prawns its a fantastic tapa. Maybe because Spain is a peninsula or perhaps because prawns and shrimps are delicious.
They can be served in very different ways, but here you have the common ones.
- Boiled and salted
- Grilled and dressed with salt and lemon
- Fried with garlic and parsley
- Battered (tails)
The Padrón peppers, some bite, and others don’t (saying), it is a variety of small green pepper, generally between 3 and 5 cm.
The “funny” thing with them is you never know if they are spicy or not until you try them and then, it is too late.
Surely this is due to the current forms of cultivation since the pepper generates its itch producing a compound that serves as a defense against external attacks, such as insects and each pepper generates it differently.
They are usually served after frying and adding plenty of salt on top. This is a simple recipe, which will serve you as a good starter.
What Wine to Drink With Paella?
What wine to drink with paella is not trivial because wine is the ideal complement to enjoy a good paella, whatever its type. However, for the perfect pairing, it is necessary to know very well what type of wine accompanies each type of paella, since if we choose one at random the experience can disappoint us.
Furthermore, it is true that the theme of food and wine pairing is very playful and that you can experiment with many options.
So, if you wonder What Red Wine Goes Best With Paella you will find here many alternatives but at the same time, I hope you discover that there are a lot of great pairing chances with other types of wines such as rose, white or even cava (champagne)
In addition, when we talk about paella we can be talking about very different paellas, both for the variety of ingredients it incorporates and the way it is made.
Here, we are going to try to analyze the five most typical types of paellas and their pairing with different wines.
To do this, I will start with the mother of all paellas: the Paella Valenciana.
It is the star dish that has given rise to the rest of the paella typologies. It is cooked with rice, or chicken or rabbit meat, garrofo (local legume similar to runner beans), butter beans, tomato, paprika (sweet), olive oil, salt and saffron.
The variability of ingredients that a Valencian paella has allows it to be paired with a wide range of wines. As at the time of cooking each master has his booklet we can say that if the paella is forceful regarding the flavor we can pair it with a young red wine and fruity that is fresh (eye, not the fridge, that is too cold).
We are thinking of a carbonic maceration of the tempranillo or mencía varieties, for example. White wine lovers can also find a white wine that is powerful in the mouth and has been fermented in barrels, a chardonnay or a godello or verdejo. We can not forget the classic white Bordeaux style (of which few remain. An example, the whites elaborated by López Heredia in Haro).
If paella has a less captivating, more subtle flavor, we can undoubtedly opt for a good rosé that provides balanced freshness and acidity. Then, you will be happy with the rosés of Castilla-La Mancha and those of the Valencian Community. Another ideal option for this case would be a Cava or sparkling wine.
This is the result of replacing meat, vegetables and legumes with squid, prawns, crayfish, mussels, clams and sometimes fish.
Perfect seafood paella is dominated by the delicate marine flavors, so it requires fresher and lighter wines that do not mask the flavors mentioned above.
Logically, we are thinking of white wines of the albariño, verdejo or sauvignon blanc variety that has not been fermented in barrels.
Serve them fresh, between 5 and 8ºC. Other interesting options would be either a Txakolí.
Furthermore, we can pair a seafood paella with a good cava, ideally vintage. That saline and iodized sensation that we can find in certain bivalves and crustaceans protagonists of the seafood paella fit perfectly with the cava that.
The reason is its carbonic, freshness and acidity becomes a conductive element of the flavors.Learn more about what wine goes with seafood paella
Paella mixta It is the result of mixing the ingredients of Valencian paella and seafood paella (not all the ingredients have to be there). This is probably the most popular paella in all the menus of the “Thursday” day. It is also the paella of many school menu, or the most typical paella for beach menus designed for tourists.
On the one hand, what we have said about wines for the Valencian paella could serve in this epigraph.
An alternative to pair with a mixed paella is a rosé wine. Rosé wines are somewhat denigrated by ignorance and we have real jewels in our cellars.
Vegetarian paella is made with rice, artichokes, asparagus, olives, mushrooms, palm hearts, broad beans, green beans…
This sort of paella can be very tasty although a priori its low fat and protein content could indicate the opposite. For this reason, we can be great with:
- Fresh and light rosé
- Sparkling wine (rosé or white)
- Good Cava
Whichever you choose to accompany the vegetarian paella with its bouquet will be a very pleasant and balanced choice.
Paella Negra is a seafood paella to which ink is added octopus or squid, which gives it that color, consistency and flavor so characteristic. It is not uncommon to see it accompanied by a touch of all-i-oli.
Due to this tasty texture in the mouth and the powerful taste of all-i-oli, we recommend using a white wine of the gewürztraminer variety or sparkling wine of the muscatel variety from the area of Valencia or Alicante. The touch of sweetness provided by these varieties combines magnificently with the delicate texture and sharp flavor of this paella.
To end up, curiously, paella is usually accompanied by light white wines, when the interesting or more appropriate would be to take crianza whites with more structure, especially if the paella is mixed or meat.
It is also important to bear in mind the context in which the paella is taken. In many cases, the paella is a dish that is enjoyed near the sea, with good weather and free air. When temperatures are high it is advisable to think of fresh wines that do not have excessive alcohol content.
I hope this was helpful to know what wine to serve with paella
What bread to serve with paella?
Eating bread with paella is not something usual in Spain. However, there are many people to love to coat bread with stock remains. Furthermore, some others like to combine rice and bread, creating a tasty bite.
Then, if you want to know the best kind of bread to have with paella, the answer mostly a crusty one. A crusty piece of bread can offer a fantastic texture contrast when served with paella. So, a good tip is to freeze your bread until some time before eating in order to keep its crustiness.
A warm small baguette should be good enough to be paired with paella since we may not want to be full soon. Besides, a homemade loaf either white or brown will be always a “plus”.
As a result, you will be able to eat the paella in the crust without cutlery. Besides, if you add extra virgin olive oil to the bread, you can even enjoy it alone.
Finally, if you are having black rice with al-i-oli (a sort of garlic mayo), you’ll definitely love serving some crusty bread slices to be delighted with a fantastic pairing. However, it would be a pity if you fill yourself quickly since the good stuff is the paella.
“Pan” in Spanish means bread, bear this in mind when you go to a restaurant 😉
What Dessert Goes Well With Paella?
Knowing what dessert to have with paella, is the last step to the full paella experience (considering you are with your friends or family).
There is no rule in terms of pairing. However, as I mentioned above, paella can be filling, so light dessert will be our allies. Furthermore, if the desserts are typical Spanish it would be fantástico.
Well, it is worth mentioning we Spanish usually have fruit as dessert. Considering the marvelous fruit we have, mainly in summer, it isn´t hare-brained. Then, watermelon, melon or apricots can be a light and tasteful dessert. Ice cream, too 🙂
What to serve with paella dessert
If you still have room for more, here you will find some light ideas about what dessert to have with either meat or seafood paella.
Some people consider Catalan cream is just a version of custard glazed and caramelized sugar on top. Because of this, is also know as burned cream. However, the truth is this dessert, is closer to French crème brûlée, although they are quite different.
The ingredients are milk, cornstarch, egg, sugar and lemon, with a cinnamon twig as a finish off.
Creme caramel (Flan)
The flan is another of the Spanish desserts that we can most commonly find, make and consume anywhere. Perhaps the most common type of flan is egg flan, but in recent years other variants have spread such as vanilla flan, coffee or cheese.
Its light texture makes it a typical and not very convincing dessert to put the finishing touch to a meal made in Spain.
- 4 big eggs
- Milk 500 ml (2 and a half cups)
- Sugar 100g (5 tablespoons or half a cup)
- For the caramel
- Sugar 4 tablespoons (1/3 cup)
- Water 3 tablespoons
There is nothing better than a refreshing and digestive lemon sorbet with cava, ideal for the copious lunches.
Surely that lemon sorbet is the star among the ice creams that can be made with citrus fruits. But the truth is that sorbets are also delicious if we prepare them with other fruits from the same family, such as orange, mandarin, lime or grapefruit.
Why not try them? A homemade orange sorbet is very easy to make. To prepare it, you only need oranges, water and sugar.
Method and ingredients
You can prepare about 500 ml of orange juice. Pour 200 ml into a saucepan, set over a moderate heat and add 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir until the two ingredients are integrated, remove from heat and let it harden. Add this mixture to the remaining orange juice, stir and taste.
If you find that it needs a sweeter spot, you can do the same thing again. When it’s done, place the mixture in a recipient and leave it in the freezer for at least 2 hours to solidify. Before serving, break the juice with a knife and mash it with a blender until a smooth creamy texture and no chunks of frozen juice are left.
And now I guess you already know what dessert to have with paella.
I hope you found inspiration to live an authentic paella experience, no matter where you are