Paella's Base: El Tomate

Perhaps no ingredient is as essential to the Paella as The Tomato! And perhaps there is no better time to discuss tomatoes than the beginning of April. Yes indeed, it's time to get out in the garden and grow your tomatoes with the rest of Spain for your Paella-filled summer.

Now, the tomato debate does not necessarily turn on whether or not to use tomatoes in your Paella, rather it turns on the question of 'in what form?' Your options are i) chopped / sliced tomatoes, ii) grated tomatoes, or iii) tomato sauce. I usually use the first option (heavily) and the third(lightly). I know that Jose Andres grates his tomatoes. But use FRESH tomatoes if you can, and go easy on the canned tomato sauce (even though Gwyneth is a stauch advocate). In the end, whatever form you choose, the tomato will simply come undone and make a nice tomato base.

You cannot underestimate the tomato's role in Paella. In fact, I recently saw that Mark Bittman makes a "Tomato Paella" with no meat, seafood, sausage, or shellfish . . . just tomato. Granted, it's a bit unorthodox, but here is his rundown.
And in the very least, surely an evening of Tomato Paella is a better use of tomatoes than the now world-renowned "La Tomatina" which takes place in Paella's birthplace . . . Valencia, Spain.

A Culinary Irony Indeed!

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