By Chef Ella Freyinger

May 2021

4 Servings

Almost a decade ago I was walking down a side street in Venice, California when a scent stopped me dead in my tracks. I began to follow the wafting smells as if my life depended on it. As I rounded the corner of what I had decided was my last chance to find this olfactory talisman - it appeared. A 4 foot wide pan sitting over a grill built into the ground of a yard. Several bodies surrounded it as they arranged shrimp, mussels, squid and other delights from the sea. I fell in love with paella at that moment. It wasn’t just about the food, it was about the community, the time spent together while creating something with love.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms, torn into chunks
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups short grain white rice
  • 6 pickled peppers, such as piquillo
  • ½ cup English peas


  • Heat a grill over medium-high heat. Place a paella pan or cast iron skillet onto the grill. Add the olive oil and heat until the oil begins to ripple. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown on one side. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add thyme, paprika, tomato paste and saffron threads. Cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Add rice and cook, while continuing to stir, for another 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half. Add broth and arrange mushrooms on top of the rice. Cook for 20 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes. Add the peppers and peas, arranging in a pattern that feels beautiful to you. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Cover with a lid and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!