You’re going to love our version of Quinoa and Shrimp Paella, adapted from a traditional Spanish version that uses rice. Instead of filling up on empty white rice calories, we decided to use quinoa instead, and it turned out wonderfully. We love the versatility of paella; you can make it with so many different ingredients! Some people use chicken, lobster, or sausage as the protein, and you’ll find vegetables varying from green beans to fresh tomatoes and lima beans. In this version, we use shrimp because it’s one of our favorite lean proteins. Adding our signature seafood seasoning to the shrimp really brings out its flavors. You end up with a dish that’s so delicious, you’ll want to eat it all the time. How great that it also happens to be so healthy!
You can whip up this healthy Quinoa and Shrimp Paella dish in less than 30 minutes, so what are you waiting for? It’s a great opportunity to try Spanish cuisine without having to splurge on an expensive restaurant meal.
A Quick Note about Saffron
Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices – in fact, it’s worth more per ounce than gold, earning its nickname “red gold!” While it is very expensive, it’s definitely worth using for this dish. It has a floral aroma, but it doesn’t taste sweet. Rather, it’s a touch earthy and grassy, lending a deep, complex flavor to anything you add it to. It really takes a good paella and elevates it to a GREAT paella, just with the addition of a few threads.
If you don’t want to spring for saffron, or you can’t find it at the local grocery store, never fear. This dish tastes 100 percent delicious without it. But, it definitely has a more authentic flavor with the saffron addition, so splurge if you can.
We Love a One-Pan Meal!
The other great thing about this Quinoa and Shrimp Paella is that it’s a one-pan meal! There’s no need to precook the quinoa or the shrimp – they both cook right in the pan along with the other ingredients.
After cooking your onions, bell peppers, and garlic, you can add uncooked quinoa and chicken broth straight to the pan. Simmer it all together until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Then, add your raw shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, and peas. Shrimp cook so quickly, so the residual heat is more than enough to turn them pink and opaque.
Just like that, the dish is ready to serve! Let us know what you thought in the comments! For a vegan version of paella, check out this Fusion Paella Recipe.
Yields: 7 servings | Serving Size: 1 cup | Calories: 273 | Total Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 125 | Carbohydrates: 33 g | Sodium: 412 mg | Dietary Fiber: 5 g | Sugars: 3 g | Protein: 22 g | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 7 |
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa, rinse well
- 3 cups chicken broth, fat-free, low-sodium
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional, Tumeric)
- 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Kosher or sea salt to taste
- 1/2 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded & membrane removed, sliced into 1/2" strips
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning (click for recipe)
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed
- Tip: If saffron is available, it's recommended because of it's distinct Spanish flavor, making it perfect for this dish. Be sure to rub the threads for flavor release when adding to the chicken broth. Saffron is a little on the pricy side but well worth it.
- While preparing quinoa, sprinkle shrimp with a pinch of salt and seafood seasoning. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- In a large skillet, heat oil to medium-low and sauté onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sliced bell pepper strips and sauté an additional 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add quinoa, chicken broth, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, saffron, paprika, black pepper and salt. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, and continuing cooking approximately 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes, peas and shrimp, cover and continuing cooking 5 minutes. Remove from heat, leave covered and allow to set 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and serve.