Today’s recipe is brought to you by, our hungry bellies!
Because there aren’t too many things better than cooking in a cast iron pan, and because this is a hungry man’s meal. In fact, as Michael put it, “Bro, I’d crush that whooole thing!”
So would I Michael, so would I.
This recipe is in the tradition of a Spanish-style paella or a jambalaya from Louisiana. Being a descendant of Spanish origin I think this dish pays homage to both of these, while still maintaining a make-it-how-you-want-it spirit for our readers.
So no, it is not strictly a paella nor a jambalaya (for you purists), but I promise you it is damn delicious!
I also wanted to make something that while a bit involved still only required one pan, as well as having the built-in flexibility that if you screw part of it up, it could still turn out a decent meal.
Cooking can be complex for sure, but I enjoy making food that is versatile and flexible in that you can add or remove ingredients, and mix and match techniques, but still turn out a tasty dish.
There are recipes that require a more exact method, but this isn’t one of them.
This is a great post workout meal as it has a nice balance of macros. Just with the quinoa alone, you have a bunch of protein, but the chorizo and the shrimp take it to another level in that regard. If you want to keep the fat content down for your post workout gains you can omit the sausage and it’ll still turn out great. It also makes a fantastic meal for entertaining guests.
I like adding the parsley and arugula to the dish to give it a nice green veg kick to go with the veggies in the initial flavor base.
Let’s get to it!
2 cups organic quinoa (choose any color you like)
1 pound pastured chorizo sausage (andouille would work well here as well)
1 lb large wild shrimp – shelled and deveined – (optional)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion – chopped - small dice
1 medium red pepper – chopped - small dice
4 garlic cloves (medium to large) – minced or pressed
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley - chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock
6 to 8 cups of fresh arugula
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
In a large bowl soak quinoa. Discard soaking water and rinse with fresh water in a large colander. Heat pan over a medium high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer but before it smokes add the drained quinoa to parch. Gently mix the quinoa with the oil in the pan. Continue to work the quinoa until lightly toasted. Careful not to overdo it. Once it’s done, remove from pan and set it aside.
Wipe the pan down and place back on the heat. Once heated through add the chorizo. Lower flame to low and cover pan to cook all the way through. Once cooked place aside. When cooled, remove casings (optional) and cut into bite-sized chunks. Set aside. Discard excess fat from pan but leave a slight coating. You’ll use this to add further flavor to the shrimp.
Season shrimp with a flaky sea salt and black pepper (For this recipe I used a smoky Maldon to further enhance the smokiness of the paprika in the chorizo). Heat the pan over a medium high heat with a slight coating of the chorizo fat, and add one tablespoon of olive oil. Once heated add shrimp and sear on both sides until they take on that beautiful orange-pinkish hue. Quickly remove from heat and set aside to be finished with the quinoa later.
To make the flavor base add two fresh tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and wait until it begins to shimmer. Lower the flame to a medium-low heat. Add onions and sweat with a light pinch of salt for three to five minutes. Add the red pepper and sweat for another three to five minutes. Add garlic and mix in with onions and peppers, sauté’ for about a minute or two. Add chopped parsley and sauté’ for another minute. Finally, add the tomato paste and cook it for three to five minutes until it browns. This will give it a meaty sweetness that is flavor building at its best. While finishing the base bring the stock up to a boil in a separate pot (this is optional as you could add the stock right to the pan. If you do it this way, bring it up to a boil in the pan and then lower to a simmer before covering.).
Add the quinoa to the pan and mix with the veg to impart flavor. With the flame on a low heat add the boiling stock. Add one teaspoon of salt and gently stir all ingredients in the pan to even out the surface. Once simmering, cover. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the liquid is almost totally gone. Uncover and add the arugula, stir it in. Add the chorizo, and immediately after, add the shrimp to finish them off.
Turn off the flame and squeeze fresh lemon juice and fresh chopped parsley as a garnish.
Place the hot pan on a towel or serving block in the center of your table. Prepare to be adored by your friends and family. If your lady friend is at this dinner she may fall in love with you after this. You may even get married, who knows.
It’s amazing how much flavor these simple dishes have. It may seem a little daunting at first, but once you get it down it’s a formula you can repeat with many different variations. Now go make this and let us know how if you get engaged afterward!