Easy Paella Negra – An Improvised Squid Ink Rice Dish for Special Weekends

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Hello friends! April here from Relax Lang Mom.com sharing another one of my improvised weekend dinner ideas using pantry staples. And today, it’s gonna be Paella Negra!

The other day I was browsing the shelves at the local grocery store looking for inspiration when I spotted a pack of Clara Ole Pasta Negra Pasta Sauce. If you know me, my mind immediately starts wandering to all the possible dishes I can create with unusual ingredients I find. Squid ink has always fascinated me and got my creative wheels spinning.

While pasta sounded good, I’ve been eating a lot of it lately and wanted to switch it up. That’s when it hit me – why not use the squid ink to make an easy paella negra instead? Traditional paella is certainly not a quick and easy stove-top meal, but I figured I could improvise a simpler version using pantry ingredients I had on hand.

Paella Negra is also known as Black Paella. Now, for those of you who aren’t too familiar with traditional paella, it’s usually a yellowish rice dish originating from Spain that contains ingredients like chicken, seafood, and spices.

This Paella Negra recipe takes the concept to a whole new level by using squid ink as the starring ingredient. The ink turns the entire rice dish black. Some people are turned off by the dramatic black appearance but the seafood taste and creaminess is so winning that it converts anyone who tastes it for the first time.

At first I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about using the pasta squid ink by Clara Ole. But all the reviews I read said the pasta sauce not only gives it an amazing shiny black color, but an intensely rich and savory flavor.

So when I had some free time, I decided to give this baby a try. Let me tell you – it was a total success! The texture of the rice was perfectly soft and the flavors were just incredible. That rich, almost inkiness from the squid ink really did enhance and deepen the taste. And of course it was just so much fun and artistic looking on the plate. I may have even gotten a few scared looks from the family when they first saw it haha. But they all loved it in the end.

How to make Paella Negra

Easy Paella Negra - An Improvised Squid Ink Rice Dish for Special Weekends 1

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (I used the rice I have on stock but preferably use a long-grain rice)
  • 1/2 cube Knorr shrimp cube
  • 1/2 cube Knorr chicken cube
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (Don’t sweat it if you don’t have this, Kasubha is fine)
  • Clara Ole Squid ink pasta saucehttps://invle.co/clki96q
  • Squid, shrimp, or chicken for protein (optional)

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium. Traditional paella uses a paella pan like this Chef Classics pan but since I don’t have that right now, im using a regular pan. Make sure to use a thick pan so it doesnt burn the rice. Cook the cleaned squid for a minute and set aside. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the tomato paste and both the shrimp and chicken broth cubes (I used Knorr).

Stir in the rice and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice is lightly toasted and aromatic.

Pour in the water and squid ink sauce. Add the saffron / kasubha threads. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, occasionally mixing until most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover and let cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all the liquid. We call this part “pa in-in” where you allow the rice to cook in very low heat,

For extra flavor, you can also stir in any chopped vegetables like tomatoes and bell peppers if you have it on hand. But it’s certainly not necessary – the rich squid ink is plenty flavorful on its own.

That’s it! An easy one-pan meal that comes together in about 30 minutes. The dark rice takes on an intriguing inky hue that always wows dinner guests. Paella negra is a unique twist on a rice dish using ingredients I happened to have in my pantry.

Have any of you ever tried Paella Negra before? I’d love to hear your experiences making or eating it in the comments below. In the meantime, if you’re itching to experiment with a new take on paella, I’d highly recommend giving this inky black version a shot. It’s a truly unique culinary experience!

Don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter below for more improvised recipe ideas using ingredients from my local sari-sari store. You’ll also get discounts on my online cooking classes!

Also, PS, If you’re looking for a Pasta Negra Recipe, here’s one I made a few years back. It uses black pasta instead of pasta sauce but you can probably switch it up too!

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