Keto Paella has been on our mind ever since we started Greek Goes Keto. Both Roberta and I love Spanish culture, music, language, art, almost everything from the land of Pan. In fact, our dear friend Alejandro from Almeria could confirm our love for his land.
Alejandro’s father Paella recipe
When we spoke about traditional Greek and Spanish dishes, the conversation naturally flew to Paella. It could be the most famous Spanish dish around the globe. Alejandro says that nobody makes it as good as his father. When Alejandro talks about his father Paella, you simply want to get up and start cooking… Then we went to investigate the history of Paella. Since it’s basically a rice dish, it cannot be the Mediterranean origin! Or could it be that they used barley or some other cereal originally?
Ancient Roman and Arabic influence
Officially, Paella was born in the Valencia region. There must have been a similar dish from the times of antiquity, but the rice was not known to Europeans back then.
Paella is supposed to be a comprehensive combination of two predominant cultures from Spain. In particular, the ancient Romans gave the tradition of preparing food in open fire on a wide pan and the Arabs, who actually brought the rice.
Similar story to Pizza invention
There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants formulated rice dishes by combining the left-overs from royal festivities in large pots. It is said that that the name paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs.
However, just like Saganaki, The word Paella really applies to the pan. All the way back to the ancient Sanskrit language the term Pa means to drink! When Paella is cooked, all the liquids are “drunk” by the rice and other ingredients. For this reason, the pan has to be wide and shallow.
Great potential for Ketonisation – Greek Style
These days I’ve been watching La Casa de Papel and all sorts of inspiration came from it. Who would say a show about rebellions and bank robbery would inspire someone to create a recipe!
Well, it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as the inspiration brings something positive to people. And by people I mean my Ketonians. Paella is a nutritious and delicious start for Keto Mediterranean foodies, we just have to get rid of the rice! Let’s be honest, it’s not the rice that carries the flavour, it just gives the texture.
Major points for a good Paella, especially if it is Ketonised
Let’s make it into a quick and easy to follow list:
- You need a wide, shallow skillet, preferably made of die-cast iron. Of course, you can improvise, but die-cast iron will give that special effect! if you can make it on an open fire, you got yourself a Eureka moment!
- You need some good seafood, the more the better… Shrimp, seashells, scampi, calamari, octopus, even pieces of fish filet… You can play with the ingredients, but you can’t go wrong if you add some meat or snails 😉 Paella is known for mixing meat and seafood…
- For this Keto Paella, you must not overdo the cauliflower rice processing. It needs to stay chewy and almost raw. Don’t worry, cauliflower can be eaten raw…
- Spices are important! The most distinctive spice is Saffron! Believe me, nobody in Europe has better Saffron than Greeks 😉
- Olive oil is also crucial, but it needs to be added in the end!
Kozani in Greek Macedonia with its mild climate produces the best quality organic saffron in the world!
El Greco connection
I believe when Greeks and Spanish work together, the best things in history are created. Let’s just take El Greco as an example. This Legendary Greek painter flourished and made the majority of his masterpieces in Spain! He changed the way the artist approach the expression, perspective and contrast in the times of Rainessance.
El Greco (Domenico Theotocopuli) moved from Greece to Toledo (Spain), quickly becoming one of the most successful and rich painters of his time. Confident, extravagant and rebellious, El Greco hired musicians to play while he ate and prided himself on his refusal to comply with his clients’ demands.https://art-sheep.com/the-eye-of-the-artist/
A Greek nutritionist can be an artist too
As a Greek nutritionist, I would like to change the way Mediterranean people comprehend healthy ingredients and cooking methods. Also, I would like to dig deeper into our history and talk more about the ancient ways and all the things modernisation destroyed for us. Health is in my mind, as the main goal of the true Mediterranean lifestyle.
Let’s be honest here, rice is not the healthiest food Mediterranean cuisine has to offer today! Especially if you are trying to fix your body composition and reduce fat around the waist. Not to mention obesity, diabetes and all the metabolic health problems my nation, as well as the Spanish people, fight with today! So, why wouldn’t we make a Keto Paella? I see no mortal sin in it! In fact, it tastes as good as the original one but it gives some great nutrients and health-boosting spices. So, let’s just be artistic here…
Keto Paella ala El GrecoCourse: main dishCuisine: Keto MediterraneanDifficulty: Medium
1 medium yellow onion
2 tbsp butter (we used goat butter)
16 medium mussels (with or without the shell)
8 medium shrimp (with or without the shell)
150g (5,3 oz)calamari cut into rings (you can use frozen)
1 medium green bell pepper
800g cauliflower rice (freshly prepared, blanched)
200 ml fish stock (you can make it by boiling fish heads)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 whole organic lemon
- Spice mix
2 tsp saffron
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp red paprika powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried peppermint
2 large bay leaves
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
5 whole cloves
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayene pepper
- Finely chop the onion and saute it in a wide shallow skillet on melted butter. Add chopped bell pepper. Wait till the onion gets light brown but keep stirring using a wooden spoon.
- Add all the seafood and stir again. Slowly pour in the fish stock bit by bit. (alternatively use any stock you like, for example bone broth or lamb stock)
- Let it cook on medium temperature and keep stiring. Add all the spices. At this point, you can cover the skillet to let the steam amplify all the spicy aroma. Cook for another 10 minutes.
- Prepare the cauliflower rice (using a food processor) and just dip it for 5 seconds in boiling watter. Strain it well.
- Gently add the cauliflower rice and stir softly. Remove the skillet from the heat.
- Before serving, pour extra virgin olive oil all over and add some fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil.
- Cut the lemon in 8 pieces and serve with each portion. Nothing emphasises the flavours like a fresh splash of lemon juice!
- This amount can be divided into 8 portions. You can add more seafood or maybe pieces of meat to make it more authentic. In some regions of Spain, snails are added.