Recently I noticed paella made with pasta instead of rice at a Catalonian restaurant in Miami. The chef told me it’s a centuries-old version from the Mediterranean areas of Spain.
Paella made with saffron-flavored rice takes at least 20 minutes to cook. Using orzo, the rice-shaped pasta, this version takes only 8 minutes. It captures the flavors of the longer-cooking paella without the effort.
Saffron, which is sold powdered or in threads, provides a delicate, aromatic flavor. Turmeric or bijol, also known as achiote or annatto, can be used instead. It will add color, although it doesn’t have the same flavor as saffron.
Spanish-style chorizo is a smoked sausage flavored with garlic and paprika. Don’t substitute Mexican chorizo, a fresh sausage. You could also use any combination of vegetables, such as green beans or sugar snap peas.
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Paella Primavera With Chorizo
1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon saffron powder or a pinch of threads
1 cup chopped frozen onion
1 cup sliced zucchini
2 ounces diced chorizo sausage (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup orzo
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup drained, sliced roasted red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring chicken broth, water and saffron to a boil, in a medium-size, nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, chorizo and orzo. Stir, bring back to a boil and cook 5 minutes. (If not using a nonstick pan, stir often to keep orzo from sticking. If pan becomes dry, add more broth.)
Add asparagus, peas and roasted red pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Per serving: 439 calories (26 percent from fat), 12.5 g fat (4.4 g saturated, 5.4 g monounsaturated), 25 mg cholesterol, 20.9 g protein, 62.4 g carbohydrates, 8.1 g fiber, 370 mg sodium.
Yield: 2 servings.