Easy "paella"

I thought it was time to break up the sugar rush with a little savory interlude today.  I still find it hard to photograph and blog about savory food; I think, mostly, I'm too impatient for everybody to dig into the hot food and eat!  Since I usually cook family dinners, there's also the deterrent in the form of no natural lighting.  But enough complaining, let's talk about a nice one-skillet dinner.
An easy "paella": rice, kielbasa sausage, shrimp, and peas cooked with tomatoes, broth and spices
To me, this is a little pan of comfort food, hearty but really not too heavy.  Along with some vegetables (roasted brussels sprouts in my case), it was a welcomed meal on a chilly spring day.  It's an easy "paella", and I leave the paella in quotation marks and call it that loosely because this is a shortcut, everyday at-home kind of version that can be placed on the dinner table in under an hour.  

I'll tell you right off the bat, there's no saffron in this "paella".  That might be heresy to some if we're talking the real thing; you can easily add it if you want but I prefer to save my precious saffron for absolute necessity.  The great thing is you can take this base and keep it simple, or take it to a more authentic place if you like.  In this particular pan, I went with convenience and speed.  I used turkey kielbasa and shrimp.  You could start with some chicken or go with another type of sausage, even track down some chorizo if you're inclined.  Next time, I'd love to work in some mixed seafood.  

It was easy enough to toss all this together in one pan for a recent dinner.  For me, a big dish of flavorful rice like this - no matter what you call it - is sheer comfort food.  

I grew up eating a lot of white rice in our Chinese household so it has a special place in my heart. While I don't eat as much of it these days and try to lean more towards whole grains (which I've come to love), it's hard to beat a pan of warm white rice with lots of flavor!  

On the subject of rice - I wasn't sure what type of rice is normally used in a traditional paella since I've seen recipes calling for different kinds.  I've now learned that bomba rice, a medium-grain absorbent rice, is the ultimate for paella.  This particular recipe actually uses plain long-grain white rice and I have to say I really liked the texture.
Real life: Dinner gets placed on the table (the kitchen is a mess) and we're ready to dig in
One of the best things I like about this recipe is the rice stands on its own and the whole thing isn't too soupy or thick.  I'm not after a creamy risotto here and I certainly don't want mush.  This cooked up with nice individual grains of rice, moist but not wet.  The paprika and turmeric does a great job of adding color and flavor along with some diced tomatoes and chicken broth to seal the whole deal.  

I love one pot/pan meals, all the better when you can take the dish directly from the stove-top to your dinner table, lift open the lid, and share it family-style!  Just pass me your plate...


Recipe:

Easy "Paella"
Adapted from Martha Stewart (a recipe from the Dec. 2003 issue of Everyday Food, a magazine I miss dearly)

- Serves 4 - 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound medium-size shrimp, cleaned and deveined
7 ounces (half a package) turkey kielbasa, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cups long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Half a can (7 1/4 ounces) diced tomatoes 
1 can (14.5 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth
Coarse salt and pepper, for seasoning
3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

In a 10-inch skillet or shallow saute pan, heat half a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-heat.  Add kielbasa and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side to warm through.  Transfer to a plate.  Add remaining half tablespoon of olive oil and cook the shrimp for 4-5 minutes until they are just pink and cooked through.  Add shrimp to the plate with the kielbasa.

Add onion to the pan, cooking and stirring for about 2-3 minutes until translucent.  Stir in garlic, followed by the rice.  Toast the rice for 1-2 minutes.  Add paprika, turmeric, cayenne, tomatoes, and broth.  Stir well, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover until rice is cooked and almost all the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 20 minutes or so.  Stir in the peas for about a minute.  Add cooked kielbasa and shrimp back into the pan and stir together to combine.  Taste, and adjust seasoning, if necessary.  Serve immediately.  





60 comments:

  1. I'm always looking for comforting dinners. This looks amazing!! And will be perfect for a weeknight. Thanks :)

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  2. wow Your paella looks scrumptious!

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    1. Quick & easy, too. Thanks, Angie.

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  3. I always just go with turmeric instead of saffron too. I just can't bring myself to spend so much money! Your paella looks amazing. The rice looks perfect and that's probably the one food I struggle with cooking the most. It's so hard to get just right. Love all the peas!

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    1. I always have some saffron on hand to make risotto but I rarely actually want to use it! This was delicious just the way it was so I'll definitely keep hoarding that saffron. : ) And I almost never measure the amount of peas in a recipe... I always load it up because I love that sweetness and pop of color and texture.

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  4. This looks delicious! I love the shrimp and sausage. It looks like a very comforting hearty meal :D Pinning!

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! I put shrimp in everything and turkey kielbasa feels much lighter so I can eat more, right?

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  5. I loooove paella!!! It is one of my very favorite dinners. This looks amazing, Monica!

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    1. Thanks, Marie. I love just cooking this and taking it to the table for dinner.

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  6. I can almost taste it from here! Beautiful! I need to make one very soon!
    :) ela@GrayApron

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    1. Makes a great dinner, with some vegetables alongside. Hope you try it!

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  7. I just adore paella, it is such a special meal for me and it's a one pot dish to boot. Great presentation!

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    1. I agree...an authentic paella is such a treat but this is a great simple way to enjoy something similar at home any time. Thanks, Cheri.

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  8. I have always wanted to make paella and I think your shortcut version sounds perfect!

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    1. I hope you try it. It's fun to play with the protein in it, too.

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  9. So nicely cooked is the rice that it could stand on its own, and the color looks just right even without the saffron. I like your speedy idea!

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    1. I like the individual strands of rice, too. Creamy risotto is great but I prefer paella or Spanish rice, etc. not too wet and not mushy. : )

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  10. I do miss rice if I don't have it every now and then. I think that's from growing up with rice in our Chinese household too! I wonder if my dad (who doesn't go a day without rice) would like paella!

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    1. Yes, must be our Chinese roots. : ) I have a feeling your dad would like it, especially if you customize it to his preference. : )

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  11. I love a good veggie paella, even though it is totally inauthentic! Definitely a great savory comfort meal!

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    1. I was just looking and drooling at a veggie paella from somewhere the other day! Authenticity is important sometimes but most of the time, only taste matters, I think. : )

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  12. I haven't made paella in so long! I love that this is an everyday version - I think this might be the kick I need to make it again! Plus I love playing around with different veggies / meats ... even if it might not be "authentic"!

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    1. Yeah, it's a great weekday or weeknight supper. : )

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  13. Loving this comfort pot full of deliciousness here! Need to add this to our dinner menu.

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    1. Oh yes, with tons of homegrown veggies on the side...

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  14. Looks like a great everyday meal, Monica. Love easy skillet dinners. I actually made a full on paella last year with paella pan and all. It was pretty awesome but takes time.
    This is a great substitute.

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    1. I bet that paella was out of this world. I love watching shows where they cook a massive paella for a huge crowd, with prawns and all kinds of goodness! This is more my speed if I'm doing the cooking but I sure love the real thing. : )

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  15. Even if this isn't authentic paella, it still looks mighty delicious! I like the combination of kielbasa and shrimp, too. Rice is also comfort food for me.

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    1. Hot bowl or plate of rice is definitely comfort food. :) This is really easy and tasty..thanks, Bianca.

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  16. Gorgeous Paella. That is what a blog is all about is creating something that you family likes and sharing it but getting that one quick photo before the family devours it. I so understand this problem. Over half of my photos have hands and fingers in the food that I have to delete or sometimes I can't get the photo before my hungry teenagers polish it off. Wishing you a super week. Take care, BAM

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    1. Your photos are always so sharp and terrific, BAM. I can imagine it must be very hard to "fend off" teenage boys when there is such good, hot food sitting on the table! : ) Eating and enjoying the food is definitely priority for me. : ) Have a great one!

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  17. What a beautiful paella...I love paella and the word "easy" really caught my attention...looks delicious...I love all kind of rice dish.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe Monica...have a great week :D

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    1. It's a great, one-skillet meal, Juliana. Glad you like it.

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  18. I love this paella. It would be a wonderful dish for a chilly day. I always love dishes that combine sausage and shrimp; such a great combination.

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    1. It's satisfying but not too heavy, too. Thank you, Dawn.

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  19. I could definitely use a savory dish after the sugar overload streak I've been on lately!! This looks great!

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    1. haha...yes, definitely need to go a little easy on the sweets and balance it with hot meals. : )

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  20. Love these savory dishes you are sharing with us - especially this paella! It looks beautiful! This everyday version would be a huge hit at our house for sure :) I totally understand about how much harder it is to take savory photos - my son gets mpatient too and tries to swipe some food away when I'm taking photos of his dinner when he's starving ;) lol

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    1. haha...I'm glad it's not just me. When I see beautiful savory meals laid out on blogs, it makes me wonder how they do that! : )

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  21. I love rice and most anything (sweet or savory) made with rice! Though I don't have genetic Chinese roots, my father was born in Harbin, China (and lived there until he was 11) to Russian-Jewish parents. Whether that influenced rice being the primary starch on our table or if it is also a Russian thing...I don't know. :) What I do know is that this paella looks like a flavorful weeknight dinner (love the one pot!) and could easily be adapted to individual tastes.

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    1. What an interesting childhood your father must have had, Wendy! The love of rice has to have some connection to that, I think! : ) I really agree with you about the versatility of savory dishes like this. All in one pot and add what you like! Have a great Mother's Day weekend!

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  22. Thank you for this wonderful supper inspiration Monica. I love paella and I think my kids would like this version without the saffron.

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    1. My kid would be behind this if it wasn't for the rice (he's not a big carb guy), onions, tomatoes...! I had to bake him a salmon filet, to be honest. But my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I know the little one will join in with us one day soon. What's not to love about a big skillet of flavorful rice - he does love the kielbasa!

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  23. Yay for more savory dishes! With a new baby in the house, I'm definitely on the lookout for quick hearty meals and have bookmarked this paella to make soon :)

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    1. Congrats on your new baby girl!! Thanks for stopping by. I hope there's hearty and easy dishes coming your way. Take care!

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  24. Boy, this little savory interlude looks incredibly delicious! It has everything I love in a comfort food, especially the shrimp! heh (: I'm bookmarking this for future dinners!

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    1. I'm big on shrimp, too, Monica. : )

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  25. I absolutely love my bloggy friends...I always learn something new. :-) I've never heard of bomba rice! So, when I finally make paella (for the 1st time!), I'm using that! So, thank you!!! And, I know how you feel about savory dishes and photographing them in low light and wanting to eat the dish while it's hot!...welcome to my world. Sistah...I'm just saying - you are not alone! I rarely post anything other than savory and it is not easy - so I appreciate these posts! Great job and I love the recipe!

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    1. I don't know how you do it with the savory posts. I mean, cakes and cookies just sit there, waiting for you and letting you take your time. I don't own any photography lights or props - maybe that would help but I just want to dig in to the food with my family and the table is usually not exactly camera-ready (though my son does an excellent job setting the table). ; )
      Anyway, I just learned about bomba rice. I'm sure you would be a stellar paella!

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  26. This is really easy. I have seen recipes with complicated steps and different types of fish. Yours look beautiful with shrimps, green peas and kielbasa.

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    1. You already make so many wonderful rice dishes, Balvinder, but this honestly is as easier as the recipe outlines. Hope you give it a try one day.

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  27. Mmm, a meal like this is my perfect dinner. I love the rice and the diff pieces of things you get in each bite. Now I'm totally craving this, Monica!!

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    1. So true - every mouth full is chock full of stuff! I enjoy something easy and hearty, too.

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  28. Yum! Looks delicious and comforting!!

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    1. It is and very easy...I plan to make it again soon, with some mixed seafood.

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  29. Yay for branching out on here! :) Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I do cook often and want to snap a beauty pic to post on here but it's hard. Once in a while, I manage. Thank you.

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  30. I LOOOOOVE Paella! Just had one at Peruvian restaurant over the weekend, too. I haven't made it at home for years and years. I'm very inspired to make one after seeing your photo. Love that we can serve with a pan and family can dig in like that. :D

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    1. Paella is sooo good, isn't it? I'd love an authentic one right about now (or anytime) but I'll settle for an easy and tasty one like this for now. I love taking the dish directly to the table. I hope you get another paella fix real soon, Nami!

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