Between the rice, seafood, and meat, you might be left wondering what to serve with paella.
Luckily, I’ve found some of the best side dishes to make it a feast.
Paella has its origins in Spanish cuisine. It’s a rice-based dish that usually includes meats (often rabbit), beans, and zippy seasonings.
It’s a pretty busy dish with tons of flavor. So, the best side dishes for paella are simple ones.
They should complement the main course, not overshadow it.
If you’re planning a family dinner and trying to decide what to serve with paella, I’ve got you covered with simple salads, bread, and soups.
15+ Side Dishes for Paella
1. 1905 Salad
The 1905 salad is a signature dish from the world-renowned Columbia Restaurant.
It combines leafy greens, briny olives, juicy tomatoes, and more.
The umami-flavor-packed salad has a beautiful dressing that complements the nutritious veggies.
It’s a fresh, light, and tangy complement to rich, carb-heavy paella.
This is an easy way to lighten the meal without changing your paella recipe.
If you’re bored of greens, try this fresh tomato salad. It’s juicy, zesty, and nutritious.
Tomatoes make a colorful, zingy side dish that pairs so well with the super vibrant paella.
Plus, it’s effortless to make.
You’ll combine chopped tomatoes, sliced red onions, and herbs. Then, toss it all in a tangy vinaigrette.
That’s it. You’re done.
It shouldn’t take longer than 10 to 20 minutes to pull it together. And that hint of crunchy pepper from the onions will be a nice contrast to the soft rice.
You can’t go wrong with a simple green veggie side. Of course, sometimes simple green veggies can be a little bland.
So, jazz these green beans up with garlic, herbs, and red pepper flakes.
They retain their signature crunch but have much more flavor than typical green beans.
Another more indulgent option is this dreamy green bean casserole. Everyone loves casseroles, after all.
They’re flavorful, filling, and usually a touch decadent.
This one’s richness comes from its creamy sauce and crunchy French onion topping.
It may not be the healthiest way to enjoy green beans, but it has to be one of the tastiest.
Potato salad is typically a BBQ and potluck side dish. However, it also pairs well with paella.
Furthermore, Paula Deen’s potato salad is some of the best, so you’ll want it whenever possible.
It features big chunks of tender potatoes and a cool, creamy sauce. There are also crunchy bits of celery, salty bacon, and tangy dill. Yum!
With their crisp, almost caramelized texture and lightly sweet taste, fried plantains are terrific with pretty much everything.
But they’re extra yummy with paella. They take less than 10 minutes to make and are so, so good.
You’ll need ripe plantains (obviously) and oil to cook them in. If you want to add a bit of salt, you can, but you don’t have to.
Eat them by themselves or use them for dipping.
Either way, they’re a straightforward and scrumptious side dish for paella.
Broccoli salad is a sweet, veggie-forward side that tastes so good, even your kids will ask for more.
You can have it ready in 10 minutes, with no cooking involved. However, you’ll need to let it chill for at least an hour before serving it.
My advice? Prepare it before leaving for work in the morning. That gives it all day for the flavors to set.
Then, once your paella is ready, pull it out of the fridge and serve.
Most people only break out sweet potato casserole around the holidays. Luckily, no one says you have to wait for special occasions.
Paella has such rich and savory flavors, it’s nice to have something a little sweet on the side.
Everyone will love this warm, comforting casserole. Its fluffy interior, crunchy top, and all-around yumminess are impossible to turn down.
Prefer a more savory sweet potato dish? Try this fluffy, eggy frittata instead.
It’s herby, cheesy, and spectacular. It’s also a little like a Spanish tortilla, so it’s ideal for eating with paella.
You can also enjoy this as a hearty stand-alone breakfast or brunch option. So make extra!
Do you know what’s missing from paella? A little green! Luckily, that’s an easy fix.
Mixing the dressing is the hardest part of this whole recipe. And trust me, it’s not difficult at all.
After that, toss the sprouts and pop them in the Air Fryer. Let it work its magic, and they’ll be done in no time.
These sweet and salty sprouts are perfectly crisp outside, while their insides are tender and flavorful.
Plus, you’ll get all those health benefits that Brussels sprouts provide. Win-win!
Do you love tomatoes and garden-fresh flavors? If so, gazpacho is the side dish (or starter) for you.
It takes just 15 minutes to make and requires no cooking whatsoever.
You’ll mix the ingredients in a food processor and season to taste. And like the broccoli casserole above, this one also needs time to chill.
Whip it up that morning; it’ll be ready to serve by lunchtime. You’ll love the contrast of hot and cold when you serve this with paella.
12. Caesar Salad
I know this may seem odd, but hear me out: tangy, creamy, salty Caesar salad is the cool pairing paella never knew it needed.
You’ll be grateful for something chilled and crunchy between the spices, soft rice, and seafood.
This recipe also includes homemade croutons. It’ll take a little longer to prepare this salad if you make those, but it’s so worth it.
13. Toasted Baguette
Need something simple and quick? It’s hard to beat toasted baguettes as a side to anything.
Bread is always yummy, and it’s ideal for mopping up the last of the sauce.
Just slice the loaf, drizzle over some oil, and bake them in the oven.
Or, to make it super Spanish, try rubbing the toasted bread with garlic. Then, grate a fresh tomato and spread it over the top.
Add another dash of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt, and it’s good to go. This Spanish-style bruschetta is also terrific for breakfast!
Potato wedges are kind of like French fries. No matter what you serve them with, people are bound to enjoy them.
These oven-baked wedges are a relatively healthy way to fix them.
The skin gets nice and crispy, covered in Parmesan and herbs. Meanwhile, the wedges themselves stay tender and soft.
It’s a delightful combination – not to mention their robust garlic and herb flavor. Kids and adults alike will appreciate these baked goodies.
Roasted bell peppers are a low-carb, low-calorie snack or side dish. Use various colors of peppers for a prettier presentation.
Making them is almost as easy as making toasted baguettes. Just cut them, oil and season them, and pop them in the oven.
Once you notice a few charred spots on the skin, they’re ready to serve.
I like to layer these on top of the paella. But they’re so yummy, you’ll want a big bowl for everyone to dig in to.
These sweet glazed carrots are just like the ones Cracker Barrel makes. Each one is a soft, sweet, and buttery treat.
You can make them with just four ingredients in as little as 15 minutes. They taste great alongside paella or for a more formal (i.e., holiday) meal.
That said, they’re so easy to fix, I often make them through the week for snacking.
It’s one of my healthier options for curbing my sweet tooth.
Is that a steak you’re looking at? Nope. It’s just a thick, juicy, meaty portobello mushroom.
But because they’re so succulent and filling, people sometimes call them ‘vegetarian steaks.’
You could honestly make a meal out of these alone. However, they’re also something filling and flavorful to serve with paella.
*Note: If you’re having issues with a rubbery texture, try raising the temperature or cooking the mushrooms a little longer.
Portobello mushrooms have a ton of moisture in them. So, you’ve got to cook them at the right heat level for the proper amount of time. If you don’t, rubberiness is the result.
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