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Weeknight Seafood Paella with Canned Octopus

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Savor the Sea: Quick Weeknight Seafood Paella with a Budget-Friendly Twist

One of my favorite ways to set the dinner table is family-style. Our version of family style is whatever we serve that night goes from kitchen to table without first being plated. We love eating family-style because it brings a sense of community to our table as we each scoop servings out of pots and pans and get excited about what we are about to eat. Also, our kids like to be in control of what they put on their plates, and this method gets them to be more adventurous because the choice is theirs. Table presentation is not typically a goal, but sometimes the end product can add some pizazz—like our quick and easy weeknight seafood paella with canned octopus. It comes to the table in a traditional paella pan and is a beautiful yet inexpensive way to make a weeknight feel special.

Below I explain how simple ingredients and resourceful techniques can transform this weeknight dinner into a gourmet experience. From frozen fish to canned octopus, rice, and canned tomatoes — this dish utilizes pantry staples without sacrificing taste or quality.

Seafood Paella is a Healthy Weeknight Meal

Incorporating seafood into your diet provides essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins. This weeknight seafood paella supplies a healthy dose of lean proteins from fish, shrimp, and canned octopus. Seafood is low in saturated fats and also high in heart-healthy fats, making it a smart choice for maintaining a balanced diet. Plus, the variety of seafood in this dish ensures a diverse array of nutrients. In addition to protein, this meal is well-balanced with grains and vegetables, bringing more vitamins, fiber, and nutrients to your plate.

Seafood Paella is a Budget-Friendly Weeknight Meal

Creating delicious meals without spending much is one of our main weekly goals. That’s why I love this weeknight seafood paella. I use frozen fish, shrimp, and canned octopus to keep costs low without compromising flavor or quality. These convenient ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores and offer excellent value for money. Plus, this is one of those meals you can make when you forget to plan dinner and need to pull things from your pantry and freezer. It’s that versatile. And while I suggest splurging on saffron for that authentic paella flavor, fear not – I’ve got tips on how to make your saffron stash last longer.

Saffron Splurge on a Weeknight?

While saffron may seem like a luxury ingredient, its unique flavor, and vibrant color are important for authentic paella. A little goes a long way with saffron, so even a small investment can last for months. To make the most of your saffron, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. And you only need a teeny tiny pinch. More than that and you’ll overdo its flavor. Trust me – the rich aroma and depth of flavor that saffron brings to your paella are worth every penny. All that being said, if you do not have saffron on hand, go ahead and make the dish without it!

Quick Seafood Paella Meal Enhancing Options

Marinating Canned Octopus

Canned octopus is a fun and convenient option for adding seafood to your paella, but it sometimes has a fishy or oily taste straight out of the can. To upgrade its flavor and texture, I like to marinate the canned octopus before adding it to the paella. Simply combine the octopus with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh parsley, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. This quick marinade will help remove some fishy notes and infuse the octopus with a Mediterranean flair. Marinate your octopus before getting all of your other ingredients prepped. This way it will be ready to add to the pan when you’re ready.

octopus in small glass jar marinating in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and parsley

Multitasking Shrimp Stock

Another quick and easy task you can do while you prep your other ingredients is to make a shrimp-based stock to use as the liquid base for your paella. When you shell your shrimp don’t throw out the shells! Simmer them in water with an optional addition of chicken bouillon for added flavor. When you finish your ingredient prep you can strain the stock and use it as broth in your paella recipe. This homemade stock adds extra flavor and complexity to the dish. All without adding cost or time to your meal prep.

shrimp shells in water simmering in copper pot on stove top with bay leaf

Choosing the Right Rice for Seafood Paella

The choice of rice is important for achieving texture and flavor in your paella. Opt for short-grain rice varieties like Bomba or Calasparra, specifically cultivated for paella due to their ability to absorb liquid evenly while maintaining a firm, separate texture. These rice varieties create the signature creamy consistency characteristic of authentic paella. Paella rice is more expensive than average rice but it is not everyday rice. This type of rice is specifically for this type of dish, so the rice should last a while. Avoid using long-grain rice—it tends to become mushy and lose its distinctiveness during cooking. If you cannot find paella-style rice at your local grocery store and don’t have time to order it, try substituting an Italian arborio, Japanese sushi rice, or other short-grain rice. Be aware that the starchiness from these kinds of rice may make your paella a bit creamier than desired.

Choosing the Right Paella Pan

When it comes to cooking this seafood paella, the type of pan you use can significantly impact the final result. Traditional paella pans, known as “paelleras,” are wide, shallow, and have sloped sides, allowing for even heat distribution and optimal evaporation. If you want to achieve the coveted socarrat – the caramelized crust that forms on the bottom of the paella, this is your way to go! Paella pans are affordable and can also be used for other types of cooking in your kitchen or outdoors.

If you have a paellera, great! You’re all set. However, if you don’t have a paellera, fear not – there are suitable alternatives. A large, wide skillet or a Dutch oven would work well. Look for a pan with a flat bottom and ample surface area to ensure that the rice cooks evenly and has enough space.

Weeknight Seafood Paella = Weeknight Fun!

With simple ingredients and straightforward steps, you’ll quickly master this weeknight seafood paella with canned octopus. Let us know if it becomes a staple in your kitchen repertoire like it is in ours.

Feel free to browse some of our other quick and easy ideas or seafood posts while you’re here. We’re glad you stopped by!

seafood paella with octopus in a paella pan garnished with sliced lemon

Weeknight Seafood Paella

This Weeknight Seafood Paella recipe offers a quick completion of a classic Spanish dish, perfect for busy evenings. Made with a mix of shrimp, white fish, and optional marinated canned octopus, it's a satisfying one-pan meal that goes from oven to table. The recipe is versatile, and meant for you to experiment with ingredients you have on hand. Cook indoors on top of a large stovetop or outside on your grill.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: comfort, easy, grains, healthy, quick, seafood, versatile, weeknight
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 425kcal
Author: juiceofsevenlemons
Cost: $22

Equipment

  • small bowl for marinating canned octopus
  • seafood scissors
  • Medium saucepan from making stock
  • Paella pan 12"

Ingredients

Make Ahead Marinated Canned Octopus

  • 1 can octopus drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon garlic minced or crushed
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • parsley optional, finely chopped

Shrimp Stock Base

  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • shrimp shells from peeled shrimp in paella recipe below
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bullion optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Paella

  • 1/2 pound shrimp deveined and peeled, shells reserved
  • 3/4 small onion
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 8 ounces frozen artichokes optional
  • 2 teaspoons garlic
  • 14 ounce can of tomatoes diced or crushed
  • 1 1/4 cup paella rice
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 4 cups seafood/shrimp broth or water see above
  • 1/2 pound white fish cut into large pieces
  • marinated octopus optional, see ingredients above
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas optional
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced optional
  • chopped parsley for garnish
Makes: 12inch round

Instructions

Marinate the Canned Octopus

  • After rinsing the octopus, marinate it in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs for at least an hour or a few hours in the refrigerator (eg: the morning of). This can be done at the beginning of meal prep as well.

Prep Shrimp & Make Stock

  • Rinse, devein and peel the shrimp, reserving the shells in a medium saucepan. You may have to rinse the shrimp a few times if they are really frozen to be able to devein and peel. Seafood scissors work best.
  • Add about cups water to the saucepan with a small bay leaf, salt, and chicken bullion.
  • Let the stock simmer while you prepare your other paella ingredients, about 10-15 minutes.

Mise en Place (while stock is cooking)

  • Dice the onion (about 1/2-3/4 cup worth).
  • Chop the bell pepper (about 1/2-3/4 cup worth).
  • Chop the artichokes.
  • Dice garlic.
  • Open the can of tomatoes.
  • Chop the white fish.
  • Add oil to the paella pan and begin to heat.

Cook the Paella

  • Add diced onions to the oil over medium-high heat and sauté until almost translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add chopped bell pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
  • Add the smoked paprika and mix to incorporate.
  • Mix in artichokes and garlic.
  • Stir in the canned tomatoes and let simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  • While the tomatoes are simmering, drain your stock. The stock should have slightly reduced to around 4 cups, add saffron to the warm liquid. If you use store-bought broth or water, warm it and add saffron to bloom.
  • Pour the paella rice into the tomato mixture and incorporate it well.
  • Slowly add the broth to the paella. Make sure the rice is evenly distributed. After this point DO NOT stir the rice. Let the mixture cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Slightly press your selection of seafood (white fish, shrimp, and octopus) into the mixture, evenly distributing it throughout the pan. The seafood should not touch the bottom of the pan nor be submerged in the rice. It should sit nestled into the top of the rice.
  • When the liquid is absorbed (about 10-15 more minutes) remove the pan from the heat.

Rest and Serve

  • Scatter the frozen peas around the top of the dish to allow them to warm.
  • Gently cover the paella with foil and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with lemon slices and parsley and serve table-side directly from the pan.

Notes

  • This paella recipe can be customized with your favorite seafood and vegetables.
  • Don’t skip marinating the canned octopus for added flavor.
  • Adding a douse of nice quality Spanish olive oil is an excellent way to finish the dish table-side.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated for a quick lunch or dinner the next day.

Nutrition

Serving: 171g | Calories: 425kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 0.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.9g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.8g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 500mg | Potassium: 322mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 750IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1.2mg

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