Everyone knows that paella is one of the signature dishes of Spain, originally hailing from the community of Valencia. However, some people are still surprised at the number of varieties of this dish. This recipe, for example, is just another variation on the classic and combines asparagus with one of the country's favourite cheeses, Manchego cheese.
While this asparagus and cheese paella is a mixture of a number of great ingredients from across the country, it is not necessarily one of the dishes you would find in a restaurant when you visit Spain. Typically, you are much more likely to find the traditional varieties from Valencia such as 'paella mixta'.
Manchego cheese is just one of Spain's cheeses but it is without doubt the most popular cheese in Spain that is made from sheep's milk. Manchego cheese actually comes from the region called La Mancha, hence the name, but is eaten throughout the Spanish peninsular. It is particularly famous for having a very distinctive, sharp and tangy flavour; one that will certainly give your paella a unique flavour.
Alternatively, if you don't like Manchego cheese or you can't find in your local supermarket or delicatessen, (both of which are unlikely!) you can always use the much loved and much more widespread Italian cheese, Parmesan. Similarly, we suggest that you use tinned asparagus; however you can of course use fresh asparagus if you are making this dish in the right season. Don't forget to wash your asparagus well as soil can often get caught in the tip of the asparagus which won't taste very nice when it is in your paella!
We also suggest that you use a specially designed paella pan to cook your paella in as this is a piece of kitchenware that has been developed for years for this one purpose. Paella can often be a tricky dish to make so any helping hand is often very much appreciated. However, you can use a normal deep frying pan, just make sure that you keep an eye on the rice and try to prevent it from sticking too much. An interesting fact about the word 'paella' is that it refers both to the Spanish rice dish and to the pan in which you cook it.
Saffron too can often be difficult to find and is really only used in the Spanish paella recipe in order to give the rice its distinctive yellowish hue. You can of course just use any other yellow food dye but it will not be quite as authentic or as Spanish as using saffron.
If you live in Spain, you will know that paella is a great dish to share with friends and family as there is so much of it! This recipe is designed for 6 people and will certainly make you feel very full due to the combination of the starchy rice and rich flavour of the Manchego cheese.