Sunday, March 20, 2011

A versatile and tasty Quinoa Paella

It's been a tricky week for my food blog inspiration. As I publicly proclaimed in my last post, I've had it up to here with being just slightly over my "fighting weight". Actually the bits that are over are my love handles on my jeans.

Anyway, this week also coincided with St. Patricks Day (for those of you who live in a bubble), so I instantly fell off the wagon and made Irish Tea Bread. I blame my Mum; she emailed my the recipe just in time. Plus, I couldn't send my daughter to school on St. Patrick's day with an all American muffin or granola bar; just not traditional Irish enough. So off she went with her tea bread, fully prepped to educate her teachers and class on what it was called, how it was made (she helped me).

However, sorry to disappoint, but I just can't bring myself to post that recipe yet. I need to be true to my word and give you the healthy options only; at least for the next week or 2 anyway! And I honestly didn't eat that much of the tea bread!

So, I am continuing to love love love Lorna Sass's fabulous book; Wholegrains for Busy People. Honestly, I can't find a recipe in there that does not appeal to me. Lorna manages to make cooking with wholegrains both appetizing and attainable without using a lot of obscure "healthy" ingredients.

So I've been working on a tweak of one of her recipes; a one pot quinoa dish based loosely on paella. It started with me looking for a reason to use smoked paprika. I dream about that spice! I just love it's complexity; when I add it to a dish it tastes like I've blended a whole bunch of spices in a fancy chef like way!

Notes on the recipe:

I'm presenting this recipe as I cooked it last night, but feel free to add more or less peas or substitute with another crunchy green vegetable such as broccoli, green beans or even seasonal (did I mention it's Spring!) asparagus. You could use fresh or roasted red peppers, and more or less chorizo. I'm sure you get my drift; it's a flexible recipe.

Quinoa Paella

Serves 6-8 (plenty for leftover lunch the next day)


1 lb/450g chicken or shrimp (chicken cut into approx 1" pieces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
2 garlic cloves (minced or finely chopped)
pinch of red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
11/2 quarts/ 1500ml chicken broth
1 rounded tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups/ 18 oz/ 510g quinoa
1 1/2 cups/ 6oz/ 170g chopped chorizo
2 cups/ 8oz/ 225g frozen peas
1 cup/ 8oz/ 225g roasted red peppers (chopped)
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce (or more to taste)


  1. Heat a large deep pan or skillet, on medium high and add the olive oil. When hot add the chicken or shrimp.
  2. Cook for about 2-3 minutes (or until cooked through) then remove
  3. Add the chorizo, paprika, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook a further 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the chicken broth, stir up the bottom to release the tasty bits, then add the tomato paste
  5. Add the quinoa and simmer for approx 12 minutes
  6. Add the chicken or shrimp and cook a further 2 minutes
  7. Finally add the peas and peppers
  8. Serve
This is the double whammy; healthy comfort food.

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