Here’s a summer entertaining menu that keeps things easy for the cook. The paella, served with grilled chicken and shellfish, is adapted to serve at room temperature. That means all the cooking is done in advance without compromising the dish.
Long-grain rice works best for the paella, rather than traditional short grain or Arborio rice, which in testing became unpleasantly thick and clumpy on standing.
I like to grill chicken legs and three varieties of shellfish for paella; they make for an inviting dish. But you can simplify this selection to your taste. You can also substitute a spicy sausage for the chicken and/or calamari in the seafood mix.
The rest of the meal? Melon with prosciutto or guacamole with chips work here with drinks. A salad of thinly sliced pickling cucumbers tossed in seasoned rice vinegar and chives is just the kind of refreshing, crunchy salad that paella requires. Crusty bread and butter. And a simple summer dessert, fresh peach melba. The raspberry sauce is actually the melba; here, it tops sliced peaches and vanilla ice cream.
Mandel is a cookbook author.