I used to think that paella was a highly complicated dish involving saffron threads, numerous ingredients, complicated mix of meats and seafood, and some secret spices. Well, turns out nothing could be further from the truth! It’s one of the easiest meals I have ever prepared!
All you do is basically throw all the ingredients together with spices, and that’s it! And I only used 2 pans: 1 skillet for cooking the meats and combining everything, and 1 pan for cooking (boiling) orzo (or rice). Pretty easy and clean for such a sophisticated looking dinner, if you ask me! Also, paella is great for utilizing any leftover chicken, shrimp or sausage – you can just throw those leftovers from last night’s dinner right in! 🙂
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I did simplify this dish a bit, by omitting saffron (which is expensive and can take a long time to cook and release the flavors). Instead, I added other colorful spices, such as sweet smoked paprika and red chili powder! As a result, my paella did not suffer a bit without saffron! Be sure to add only 1 teaspoon of each spice (paprika and chili powder) initially and then add more, if you desire more spiciness. Also, add just a touch, a pinch of turmeric – only for color purposes, but make sure not to add too much, because turmeric has a very strong flavor that will overpower other flavors.
You can use either orzo (rice-shaped pasta) or rice here. If using orzo, I like to reserve some cooking water from cooking orzo and then add a little bit of it back into paella to make it juicier! Paella is much better when it’s juicy vs. dry!
Never thought that paella would be something I could cook midweek after work, but it’s easy enough to pull it off! And, it’s so tasty and bursting with flavors! Absolutely, one of my favorite dishes lately!
1 pound shrimp (20-30 shrimp), deveined and peeled, with tails still on
8 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika (start with 1 teaspoon and add more if desired)
1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon red chili powder (depends on how spicy you want it)
a touch of turmeric, for color
salt and pepper
2 cups orzo or rice (use rice for GLUTEN FREE version)
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced sausage, sliced chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. Add chopped red bell pepper and green bell pepper, stir in with sausage and chicken, cover, and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes, on medium heat. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp just turns red. Add chopped green onions. Add spices (sweet smoked paprika and red chili powder), add just a touch of turmeric for color. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep the skillet covered. The shrimp and green onions will continue cooking slightly when covered and off heat – without overcooking.
Cook 2 cups of orzo or rice in a sauce pan according to package instructions. Drain, reserving a good amount of pasta/rice cooking water.
Add drained orzo (or rice) into the skillet with shrimp, chicken and sausage. Mix everything well, so that olive oil, juices from spicy sausages, and other cooking juices and spices coat orzo or rice. Add some reserved water from cooking orzo/rice to make paella more juicy vs. dry. Keep adding more water to achieve the desired consistency of your paella – I think the juicier it is, the better. Add more salt and pepper if needed.