With a dish as complex as paella, it can be hard to decide what sides pair best.
Here’s the scoop for over 65 side dishes that go hand-in-hand with a vibrant Spanish paella.
We’ll journey through the fragrant lanes of Spanish tapas, marinated olives, and traditional sangria, just to name a few.
So, don your apron and prepare to discover the perfect partners for your paella, adding layers of flavor and texture that’ll make your meal an unforgettable delight.
What to Serve With Paella
When deciding what to serve with paella, the culinary possibilities expand into a vibrant tapestry of flavors and textures.
Beyond the rich and savory flavors in paella, the selection of sides to serve with this staple Spanish dish adds a delightful dimension to the dining experience.
Imagine tapas-style side dishes, meticulously created to complement the bold flavors of paella, creating an extra burst of flavor that transports you to the sun-soaked streets of Spain.
The art of choosing side dishes for paella becomes an exploration, offering a medley of options to enhance the communal and festive spirit that surrounds this beloved dish.
So, let’s delve into the world of paella accompaniments, where each bite is a celebration of Spanish cuisine and a feast for your taste buds.
Classic Spanish Tapas
When you’re looking for the perfect accompaniment to your paella, nothing beats the variety and flavor of classic Spanish tapas.
These appetizers, or tapas, are more than just a Spanish dish. They’re a chance to taste the rich diversity of Spanish cuisine in bite-sized servings.
Then, move on to roasted red peppers, a vibrant and sweet paella side that’s sure to delight your taste buds.
These are just two examples of the delicious tapas-style side dishes you could serve.
Each one adds a unique flair to your dining experience, transforming your paella meal into a delightful Spanish feast.
Marinated Olives Selection
For your next paella dish, don’t overlook marinated olives.
This classic Spanish side dish is a must when considering what to serve with paella.
The salty, tangy flavor of the olives pairs perfectly with the rich, savory notes of your paella, creating a symphony of flavors that will leave your guests begging for more.
Different varieties of olives, whether they’re green, black, or mixed, each bringing a unique flavor to your paella party.
Marinate them in olive oil, garlic, and herbs for a simple, yet delicious, side.
Manchego Cheese and Quince
Moving on from marinated olives, you’ll want to add Manchego cheese and quince to your spread of paella sides.
When it comes to picking a paella side dish, this Spanish duo is a must.
Manchego, a savory sheep’s milk cheese, and quince, a sweet fruit paste, are the best sides to serve at your paella party at home.
The creamy, nutty flavor of the cheese balances the tangy sweetness of the quince, creating a delightful pairing for your hearty paella.
Including these in your paella recipes adds an authentic Spanish touch to your paella meal.
Seafood Gazpacho Recipe
Often, you’ll find that a chilled seafood gazpacho makes an excellent accompaniment to your flavorful paella.
Gazpacho, a traditional Spanish side, is a refreshing palate cleanser, served alongside a seafood paella.
This seafood gazpacho recipe is among the best side dishes to serve with paella, offering a blend of fresh, tangy flavors that complement the rich, saffron-infused rice.
To start, dice ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and onions.
Add a selection of seafood, such as shrimp or scallops, then blend until smooth.
Then, season with olive oil, vinegar, and fresh herbs. Chill before serving so the gazpacho’s coolness balances the warmth of the paella.
Garlic Shrimp (Gambas Al Ajillo)
Another fantastic side dish to consider when planning your paella feast is garlic shrimp, or as it’s known in Spain, gambas al ajillo.
This seafood dish is a classic Spanish tapa, and it’s the perfect side dish to serve alongside your paella.
It’s simple to prepare in your paella pan, and it adds an extraordinary depth of flavor to the overall meal.
The shrimps are sautéed in olive oil with plenty of garlic and pepper, then finished off with a sprinkle of saffron.
The saffron not only adds a pop of color, but also enhances the flavors of the dish.
The combination of garlic, pepper, and saffron works harmoniously with the robust flavors of the paella, making gambas al ajillo a must-try paella side dish.
Chorizo in Red Wine
While you’re savoring your paella, don’t forget to try the chorizo in red wine, a side dish that’s bound to make your meal even more memorable.
This savory dish is one of the best sides for paella and can be served as an appetizer as well.
In this Spanish classic, chorizo is roasted in a luscious red wine until it’s bursting with flavor.
The result is a rich, hearty treat that perfectly complements the main dish.
Undoubtedly, paella is a delicious dish, but when paired with chorizo in red wine, it’s elevated to a whole new level of flavor.
Patatas Bravas: Spicy Potatoes
If you feel like your paella doesn’t have enough heat, you’ll find that patatas bravas, a side dish made of fiery potatoes, can kick it up a notch.
Here’s why patatas bravas make for a delicious side dish:
- It’s a tasty side dish that pairs perfectly with vegetarian paella.
- The heat of the potatoes contrasts with the mildness of paella.
- It’s an easy recipe you can whip up in no time.
- This dish adds a kick of spice to your meal.
Serve patatas bravas at your next gathering for a meal everyone will remember.
Pan Con Tomate
You’ll find that a generous serving of pan con tomate, a classic Spanish bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes, is a refreshing and light accompaniment to your paella.
This veggie side dish begins with a slice of bread that’s toasted to golden.
The bread is then lightly brushed with a tomato sauce that’s infused with garlic and fresh herbs.
The result is an explosion of flavors that brings a light and refreshing touch to your meal.
If you’re looking for a recipe to use up your day-old bread, look no further.
Pan con tomate is a simple dish that will pair beautifully with your paella.
Tortilla Española: Spanish Omelette
In light of your love for Spanish cuisine, don’t overlook the classic tortilla española, a Spanish omelette, as a delicious side to your paella.
This egg and potato-based dish can be enriched with an array of colorful veggies, making it one of the easiest side dishes you’ll ever prepare.
- Green beans, blanched and chilled.
- Tomato salad with fresh cucumber slices.
- A handful of green and red bell peppers for a pop of color.
- A sprinkle of olives for a briny kick.
- A drizzle of your favorite salad dressing to tie all the flavors together.
This combo of the hearty tortilla española and the light salad creates a perfect balance.
Almond-Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon
Want a side dish that’s both sweet and savory? Try almond-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.
It’s one of those dishes where you can’t go wrong, trust me.
The combination of textures and flavors makes this dish an unforgettable one.
Each bite is a flavor explosion of sweet dates, crunchy almond, and crispy bacon.
To balance the richness, pair it with a tangy arugula salad or a fresh tomato salad.
The green salad acts as a refreshing side, cutting through the decadence of the dates and bacon, perfect for those seeking a lighter note to their meal.
Enjoy the sweet and savory delight of almond-stuffed dates wrapped in bacon.
Pimientos De Padrón
Continuing on your culinary adventure, let’s explore the delightful world of pimientos de padrón.
This amazing dish, a treasure trove of flavor, pairs perfectly with paella.
Imagine a plate of blistered, green peppers, sprinkled with sea salt.
Each bite, a flavorful surprise, as some peppers are mild, while others pack a punch.
Now, consider the harmony of pimientos de padrón with:
- An easy arugula salad, with light notes that complement the peppers.
- A classic Caesar salad, the creamy dressing a soothing contrast to the heat.
- A fresh Greek salad, the olives and feta adding a tangy twist.
- A loaf of crusty bread, to mop up all the delicious juices.
- A glass of chilled white wine, for a refreshing finish.
Pimientos de padrón is a delightfully unpredictable companion to your paella.
Spanish-style Roasted Vegetables
Moving on from the spicy delight of pimientos de padrón, let’s now delve into the rich, earthy flavors of Spanish-style roasted vegetables.
Imagine red bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and onions, all seasoned with olive oil, fresh rosemary, and thyme, roasted to perfection.
Picture the vibrant colors in harmony, each bite offering a different texture, a different flavor.
This is a side dish that’s not only visually enticing, but also packed with nutrients.
It’s the perfect complement to your paella, adding a different layer of complexity to your meal.
Refreshing Cucumber Salad
Often, after indulging in rich, roasted vegetables and hearty paella, you’ll crave something light and refreshing to cleanse your palate.
That’s where a crisp cucumber salad comes in.
This side dish is a perfect complement to a spice-filled paella, offering a cool contrast to balance out the strong flavors.
Here’s a simple recipe for you to try:
- Start with fresh, crisp cucumbers. They’re the star of the show, after all.
- Slice them thinly for a pleasing texture.
- Add a splash of vinegar for a tangy twist.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss in some fresh herbs like dill or mint for an extra burst of flavor.
This refreshing cucumber salad won’t only satisfy your cravings but also enhance your paella experience. Enjoy!
Mixed Green Salad With Vinaigrette
For a vibrant, crunchy addition to your paella meal, you’ll love a mixed green salad with vinaigrette.
Imagine a bed of fresh, cool greens like spinach, arugula, and romaine lettuce, offering the perfect crunch.
Then picture thinly sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and radishes adding an extra burst of freshness.
Now, envision a light dressing of homemade vinaigrette that offers a tangy, zesty contrast.
This vinaigrette is a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
With each bite, you’ll experience a delightful balance of flavor that not only pairs excellently with paella, but also makes your meal more exciting and satisfying.
Zesty Lemon Asparagus
In addition to your paella, you’ll find that zesty lemon asparagus brings a refreshing, tangy twist to the table.
This side dish marries the earthy, tender asparagus with vibrant, zesty lemon for a collection of flavors that complements the richness of your main course.
Here’s how you can create this delightful pairing:
- Start by trimming your fresh asparagus.
- Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven until tender and slightly caramelized.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the cooked asparagus.
- Finish with a sprinkle of lemon zest for an extra zing.
The bright citrus notes cut through the robust flavors of the paella, providing a refreshing palate cleanser.
This zesty lemon asparagus is a simple yet elegant accompaniment to your meal.
Grilled Artichokes With Aioli
After enjoying the zesty lemon asparagus, you’ll want to dive into another tantalizing side dish: grilled artichokes with aioli.
This side brings a touch of Mediterranean flair to your table.
Succulent, earthy artichokes are grilled to perfection, their outer leaves charred to a smoky sweetness.
The heart of the artichoke, tender and juicy, is a delightful surprise waiting beneath the crisp surface.
Each bite of the artichoke, generously drenched in aioli, is a divine blend of contrasting flavors and textures.
Grilled artichokes with aioli aren’t just a side dish; they’re an experience.
And just like your paella, they’re a celebration of bold, vibrant flavors.
Savory Sautéed Mushrooms
Next on your culinary adventure, you’ll enjoy the deep, earthy flavor of savory sautéed mushrooms, perfectly seasoned and cooked to a tender, juicy consistency.
This side dish is a textural delight that complements the rich, complex flavors found in a traditional paella.
- Choose hearty mushroom varieties like cremini or shiitake for their robust flavor and meaty texture.
- Sauté them in a mix of olive oil and butter for a richer taste.
- Season with fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary to elevate the earthiness of the mushrooms.
- Finish with a splash of white wine or sherry for added complexity.
- Serve warm, garnished with fresh parsley for a pop of color.
Savory sautéed mushrooms are a versatile side that adds a gourmet touch to your dish.
Roasted Red Pepper Salad
For a vibrant burst of flavor alongside your paella, you can’t go wrong with a roasted red pepper salad.
This side dish isn’t only visually stunning with its brilliant red hues, but it also packs a punch in terms of taste.
The roasting process enhances the sweetness of the peppers while lending a smoky depth of flavor.
To make this salad, you’ll need red bell peppers, olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked black pepper.
You might also want to add chopped fresh herbs like parsley or basil for an additional layer of taste.
Drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette, toss well, and serve.
This simple yet sophisticated salad will undoubtedly elevate your paella.
Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers
While you’re savoring the smoky depth of roasted red pepper salad, don’t forget to try the decadent goat cheese stuffed peppers as another impressive side dish.
These stuffed peppers are tangy, sweet, and a little bit spicy, offering an exciting contrast to the rich, hearty flavors of paella.
The goat cheese provides a creamy, smooth texture that pairs perfectly with the crunchy, vibrant peppers.
Consider these factors to further enhance your goat cheese stuffed peppers:
- Choose ripe, vibrant peppers for maximum flavor.
- Use high-quality, creamy goat cheese.
- Add spices like paprika or cayenne for extra heat.
- Consider a drizzle of honey or balsamic glaze for a touch of sweetness.
- Roast the peppers for a smoky flavor.
Every bite promises to be a delightful, tasty experience.
Spanish Flan for Dessert
After indulging in the savory side dishes, you shouldn’t miss out on the Spanish flan for dessert, a classic sweet treat to perfectly round off your paella meal.
This creamy, caramel-topped dessert is a staple in Spanish cuisine, and its silky texture combined with a touch of sweetness is simply divine.
It’s traditionally made with milk, sugar, and eggs, resulting in a custard-like consistency that melts in your mouth.
The caramel sauce adds a rich, tempting finish, enhancing the overall flavor.
This dessert is a balance of simple and sumptuous, making it a fitting conclusion to a hearty paella meal.
So, as you gather with loved ones to share a paella feast, remember to leave room for a piece of Spanish flan, an indulgence you’ll surely relish.
Churros With Chocolate Sauce
Another dessert you can’t pass up when serving paella is the irresistibly crunchy churros with chocolate sauce.
Churros, deep-fried to perfection and dusted with sugar, are the perfect sweet ending to a savory paella meal.
Dipped in warm, rich, and slightly bitter chocolate sauce, they provide a delightful contrast in flavors.
Here’s what makes them so special:
- The churros’ dough is simple, consisting of water, flour, and salt, yet each bite is a burst of flavor.
- Their golden exterior hides a soft, tender interior.
- The rich chocolate sauce adds a luxurious touch to the dessert.
- The contrast between the crunchy churros and smooth chocolate is a textural delight.
- They’re traditionally hand-piped, adding a personal touch to each piece.
Traditional Spanish Sangria
During your paella feast, you shouldn’t miss out on savoring a glass of traditional Spanish sangria.
This fruity, wine-based punch is an essential part of Spanish cuisine and culture.
It’s a perfect blend of red wine, chopped fruit, a sweetener, such as honey or sugar, and a touch of brandy.
The magic of sangria lies in its simplicity and flexibility. You can customize it to your taste with different fruits or wine.
The longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together, creating a rich, complex taste that’s irresistible.
Barcelona-style Grilled Leeks Side Dish
Once you’ve enjoyed your sangria, it’s time to introduce another Spanish delicacy to your paella feast, Barcelona-style grilled leeks.
Known as ‘calcots’ in Catalonia, these tender, sweet leeks are traditionally grilled over an open fire, then served with romesco sauce.
Here’s how you can create this delightful dish at home:
- Start by selecting fresh leeks. The younger and thinner, the sweeter they’ll be.
- Grill them until the outer layer is blackened, giving them a delightful, smoky flavor.
- Peel off the charred outer layer to reveal the tender, juicy inside.
- Whip up some homemade romesco sauce, a rich blend of roasted red peppers, almonds, and garlic.
- Enjoy the grilled leeks by dipping them in the romesco sauce, a perfect accompaniment to your paella feast.
Serrano Ham and Melon
After savoring the smoky sweetness of Barcelona-style grilled leeks, you’ll want to make room for Serrano ham and melon.
This pairing is a Spanish classic; the saltiness of the Serrano ham pairing perfectly with the sweet juiciness of ripe melon.
The juxtaposition of flavors will set your taste buds alight, providing a delightful contrast to the rich, hearty paella.
Savor each bite, letting the mingling flavors transport you to a sun-drenched Spanish terrace.
It’s a simple, yet sophisticated dish that adds a touch of elegance to any paella feast.
Spanish-style Grilled Sardines
Moving on from the classic pairing of Serrano ham and melon, let’s now dive into the robust flavors of Spanish-style grilled sardines.
These small, oily fish are a staple in Mediterranean cuisine and perfectly complement the rich, complex taste of paella.
Here are some key points about this delightful side:
- They’re grilled over high heat, which imparts a smoky flavor that’s truly irresistible.
- A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon, and garlic brings out their natural, briny sweetness.
- They’re served with a sprinkle of coarse salt, accentuating their fresh, oceanic taste.
- Due to their high oil content, sardines are incredibly moist and soft.
Incorporating these grilled gems into your paella meal will take your dining experience from ordinary to extraordinary.
Final Thoughts: What to Serve With Paella
So, there you have it! Over 65 delectable dishes to serve up alongside your paella.
From traditional Spanish tapas, like marinated olives, to refreshing seafood gazpacho and garlic shrimp, the side dish possibilities are endless.
Don’t forget a glass of sangria or a bite of grilled leeks, sardines or Serrano ham and melon.
Each side dish ensures that your paella will be elevated to the max.
So, go ahead, pick your favorites and create a Spanish feast that’s sure to impress.
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