Quinoa Paella

Last weekend was spent with friends and delicious Cajun foods. I was excited to finally throw a Mardi Gras party at the new place and cooked for about 50 people last weekend. Hence, there was very little blogging time and zero photos. I must practice taking photos before friends arrive next time. We served some stuffed ‘shrooms, crawfish- stuffed deviled eggs, crawfish dip, spinach dip, tomato soup, beer bread, chicken and sausage jambalaya, coleslaw, King cake from Keller’s bakery, boudin from Best Stop Grocery in Lafayette Louisiana, brownies, and cupcakes.

I absolutely love having friends over to our place and it just feels like “home” already!

After an exhausting work-week prior to the party, I was planning to go have some fun today in New York City for 3 days. That darn winter storm Nemo is ruining it by cancelling all flights to New York! I got a phone call at 10 p.m. with the bad news. I think I am more sad I won’t be getting to see my friend, Katie, than the visiting the Big Apple ,but we are planning on making up this weekend in the next month or two, sans blizzard. I am bit down today, but I know I will get to New York eventually. Hey, maybe I can get there tomorrow and stay through Monday night! Who knows…

On to my next completely unrelated point, which is that I was thumbing through cookbooks (Whole Grains for Busy People by Lorna Sass) looking for food ideas a month ago, and came across this recipe, a paella made with quinoa instead of rice.

I tweaked this a bit, added more chorizo,  and a new staple in our household has been born:

Chicken and Chorizo Quinoa Paella


Chorizo is a meat I buy every so often because it just lends  a delicious flavor to dishes: tacos, enchiladas, jambalaya, stuffed mushrooms, and burritos to name a few. I bought a pack of 6 for $5 in the “Mexican” section of the grocery store… note that Mexican chorizo is different than Spanish chorizo. It should be eaten sparingly, no more than a serving a week , because it is a fatty meat. What makes chorizo different from other sausages are the spices and slight sweetness. If you are feeling adventurous and have absolutely nothing else to do, you could get some high quality pork and make your own. Read here for more on that.

Quinoa on the other hand  is a healthy grain, crammed with essential proteins and amino acids and the varieties vary: white, red, or black. I prefer the red and black, but all of them work fine with this recipe. The recipe above is made with red quinoa that I packed in my suitcase straight from Peru. I am reminded of it constantly because the grains have subsequently has found their way into every nook and cranny of my suitcase, clothing, and lingerie because the bag busted while were traveling. Every so often, I reach down into my  shirt, and ” oh’look a piece of quinoa”! Lovely. Sarah B of My New Roots has an interesting and informative blog post on the health benefits of quinoa and explains how to store it and rinse it. Please, please rinse it well!

Enjoy! Folks in New England, make a snowman for me and stay safe in Nemo (since when do we name winter storms?)..

To Your Health,


Chicken and Chorizo Quinoa Paella

Serves 8-10
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This deeply flavorful and smoky Chicken and Chorizo Quinoa Paella makes a healthy and fast weeknight dinner.


  • 1lb chicken thighs (chopped into 1 inch pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked spanish parika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups quinoa (rinsed several times)
  • 1lb chorizo (removed from casing)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bellpepper (sliced thinly)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste


I used fresh red pepper because I had no roasted bellpepper on hand and it was still delicious. Saute it with the garlic if you decide to use fresh red bellpepper.

Half the amount of chorizo if you are concerned about the fat content.



Step 1
Brown the chorizo in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Spoon out the cooked chorizo and set aside on paper towels to drain. Get rid of most the excess fat in the pan.
Step 2
Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown about 2 minutes each side in the saucepan on medium-high heat. Transfer to a plate.
Step 3
Saute the garlic in the juices for about 1-2 minutes, then add in paprika and red pepper flakes. Then stir in the broth, scraping up any brown bits. Stir in the tomato paste and bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa. Cook 12 minutes on medium heat, covered.
Step 4
Season with salt to taste, then add chicken and chorizo. Simmer until quinoa is done(no opaque white dot in center ) and the chicken is cooked through. If the mixture seems too dry or too wet, you can simmer longer or add a bit more broth.
Step 5
Stir in the peas and roasted red pepper. Top with herbs to serve.








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