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It’s been a few weeks since I returned from a fabulous holiday to the Algarve in Portugal with my family. We stayed in a lovely villa close to the sea and some great markets. In my opinion staying in a villa is the best type of summer holiday choice as it’s a brilliant way of getting to cook with some delicious local ingredients. You also have the option of sitting down and enjoying a meal in the comfort of our own villa, at a time that suits rather than rushing about to get a table in the local restaurant during the busy summer period.

Of course, holidays should be about relaxing, so when it comes to the actual cooking, simple to prepare dishes are essential, keeping time in the kitchen to a minimum. I have recently written some holiday food recipes for James Villa Holidays that you can look at and also cook along to some video recipes in your own home or on holiday.

However the below recipe is something I made on holiday for the family. Paella is a traditional Spanish recipe but the range of seafood in Portugal was fantastic I decided to give it a go. I added a Portuguese twist to an original recipe and the end results were delicious. Piri Piri is a spicy seasoning used widely in Portugal and I added a good pinch to the paella which gave some heat! We were also very excited by the size of the tiger prawns out there so I cooked a couple separately and added them at the end. They were so meaty and sweet.

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serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

100g chorizo, chopped

1 red pepper, sliced

300g paella rice

1 large glass of white wine (about 250ml)

a large pinch of saffron strands

1 heaped tsp Piri Piri seasoning

1 litre hot fish or chicken stock

500g clams, cleaned

8-12 raw prawns

100g frozen peas, defrosted

2 very large tiger prawns, butterflied

few sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves roughly chopped

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat the olive oil in a paella pan or a very large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, chorizo and red pepper, and sauté until the onion has softened.

Stir in the rice for a minute or so until it is coated in the oil, then add the wine, saffron, piri and enough stock to cover the rice (about two-thirds of the measured quantity). Stir well and bring to a simmer. Allow to gently cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add some more of the stock if it is being absorbed too quickly.

Stir in the clams, 8-10 prawns, peas and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the remaining stock, cover tightly with foil and leave to gently cook over a low heat for about 10–15 minutes, until the rice is tender and the seafood is cooked through (the clam shells should be open).

Meanwhile heat a drop of oil in a separate pan. Add the very large prawns and fry until cooled through and opened up.

Sprinkle the oregano over the paella and place the lemon wedges and butterflied large prawns on top and serve.


To clean the clams, wash well under cold running water, discarding any open shells that don’t close when tapped. It is also worth remembering that any shells that haven’t opened once the paella is cooked, should be discarded.


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