Slightly spicy with a hint of smoke, this one-pot meal is deliciously simple and is packed full of healthy, whole ingredients. Quinoa replaces the traditional rice in this recipe to boost protein and fiber.
I’ve been making a version of this recipe for years. When I was teaching myself to cook and got a little adventurous I whipped up a recipe I found in Cooking Light. It was easy and quick and a definite home run with my family. I would make it ahead of time and it was always better the next day, leftovers for lunch were always the envy of my co-workers. It was one of the first recipes I started blasting out to my friends via email for easy weeknight meals. Simple, healthy and satisfying.
Then, my family took a trip to the Domincan Republic one summer and every single day the staff made a lunch over an open flame on the beach. One day it was barbecue, another was a seafood feast….but the one lunch that stood out the most was the paella. It was pretty remarkable to watch the whole process. The paella pan itself was the size of one of those small inflatable swimming pools. It was ginormous. For a paella pan. And they were using something similar to a broom handle to stir it, it was quite the scene….but what I LOVED about it was the smoky flavor. I had never tried a paella with that satisfying hit of smoke behind the spicy. It was absolutely perfect. I had to make some changes at home if I was going to successfully duplicate the recipe.
I still wanted the quick and easy paella but with more POW in the flavor. More smoke, a little more spice and some flavor built in by searing the shrimp and sausage. I also wanted to add a little extra protein and fiber…..just because. (You can certainly stick to rice if you are one of those people that doesn’t like quinoa, it’s cool.) I kept the peas because peas are awesome and the color just looks fantastic. Don’t you think? And I added some liquid smoke, just a tiny bit….just to take me back to the beach.
This is one of those meals where we actually eat ALL the leftovers. That never happens. I’m always freezing something or tossing a few bites in the trash….but this is devoured every single time. Every single bite.