Anyway, Greg tried Paella (pronounced: pie-ay-yah) for the first time recently in Malibu and really liked it. I've had it before and I also really like it. For those that don't know what it is, Paella is a rice and meat/seafood dish from Spain. A lot of the methods of preparation vary.... from sausage/chicken/shrimp, to clam/chorizo/lobster as the protein. I decided I wanted Paella and I wanted to get more out of my amazing slow cooker (yeah for wedding registry gifts!), so I Googled ""slow cooker Paella recipes". I looked at a bunch of different things and then created my own recipe! Here it is! It involves a minimal amount of ingredients and a minimal amount of tools/appliances for preparation! And... I put a healthy spin on it!
Healthy Slow Cooker Paella
(serves about 6)
(serves about 6)
- Cooking spray / oil (something to use to oil the bottom of a skillet... about 1-2 tsp)
- 1 diced large onion (I used a yellow vidalia onion)
- 2-3 cloves Garlic
- 1 package Turkey Smoked Sausage, sliced
- 4 cups Unsalted Chicken Stock
- 2 cups uncooked rice (brown or white... whatever you have on hand)
- 14.5 oz can of No Salt Added Diced Tomatoes (don't drain the water out)
- 2 cups Shrimp (I bought the frozen pre-cooked, de-vained, and tail-less kind)
- 1 12 oz. bag frozen peas (small-medium bag)
- Capers (for garnishing)
- Sprinkle of Paprika (for garnishing)
- Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
- Cook the onion and garlic until it becomes somewhat browned
- Add in the Turkey Sausage - cook on high until everything is browned
- Add the onion, garlic, and sausage to the Slow Cooker
- Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into the skillet. Bring it to a boil, stirring up the browned bits left in the pan
- Add the stock to the slow cooker
- Add the remaining 3 cups of stock, can of diced tomatoes, and uncooked rice to the Slow Cooker
- Cook on LOW for 3 hours
- Check on rice -- if it hasn't softened and plumped, add another cup of water (this just depends on slow cookers and the type of rice you have)
- Add the shrimp to the Slow Cooker, cook an additional hour
- During the last 15 minutes of cook time, add a bag of frozen peas
- Serve, garnish with capers and a few sprinkles of paprika
Other ingredients you might consider adding:
- 1-2 chopped bell peppers, whichever color you like best (add at step 7 if you want them softer, add at step 10 if you want them a little crisper)
- A few strands of saffron (add at step 7)
- A few teaspoons of cumin and/or cayenne pepper, if you want a bit more seasoning and/or spice (add at step 7)
So after my first go at this recipe, I think it went pretty well. It kind of reminded me of gumbo/jambalaya but in a different sort of way. I haven't had too many Paellas in my lifetime, so I'm not the expert. Things I am going to try next time are including some green/red bell peppers and some saffron. The reason I didn't is because I forgot about the peppers and I just couldn't justify spending $15 on a small jar of saffron when I went to the store today. I know it's one of the most expensive herbs on the planet, but this was my first time trying this. Now that I know I can do it, I'm most likely going to go back and buy saffron. And it'll give me an excuse to cook something fancy! Honestly, the recipe does well without those ingredients, but it's something to add if you have it on hand. If you want more seasoning and/or spice, I suggest a little cumin and/or cayenne pepper.
Things you might notice is that I use low-sodium products and low fat proteins. This makes the dish more heart-healthy. I think the turkey sausage and chicken stock pack enough sodium to season the entire dish. It's amazing how much sodium dry/canned/packaged goods can have, so please read the labels! It's easier to add salt than to take away.
Also, you can definitely alter this recipe to your liking! You don't like shrimp? Don't use it! Add clams if that's your favorite seafood! Don't like seafood at all? Do it with chicken and sausage! Just want seafood? Get fancy and do it with crab and lobster! Do whatever combination your Paella-lovin' heart desires! I did what I thought would take the least amount of prep time and work on my part. After all, it's a slow cooker recipe and I should just be able to do it's work and forget about it while I partake in mindless television or facebook. It's summer - I've got to catch up on my mindless entertainment.
Anyway, I hope that you give this a whirl and you enjoy it as much as we did! I'm amazed at how little effort it took to make this! I had a lot of leftovers since it's just Greg and I. I froze the rest and will reheat in a few weeks!