I tasted a French version of the famous Spanish dish in Paris where I found chefs reaching beyond their borders for new flavors. The paella, which included leeks and tarragon in addition to the usual Spanish ingredients, was made by a young chef from Southwestern France, near the Spanish border.
A washed, ready-to-eat salad served with your favorite low-fat vinaigrette dressing completes the meal.
The paella calls for Valencia rice, a medium-grain rice grown in the Valencia province of Spain. It is a soft rice that remains a little firm in the center when cooked. If you only have long-grain rice on hand, you can use it for this recipe. The texture will be different, but the flavor will be good.
The paella also calls for leeks. The easiest way to wash leeks is to remove any damaged leaves and cut off the green ones. Cut the remaining white section in half lengthwise and then in half lengthwise again and run them under cold water.
– Onion and leeks can be sliced in the food processor
– Turmeric or bijol can be used instead of saffron.
– 2 teaspoons dried tarragon can be used instead of fresh.
– Minced garlic can be found n the produce section of the market.
– Assemble all ingredients.
– Make paella.
– While paella cooks, assemble the salad.
Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes.
To buy: 2 leeks, 2 large tomatoes, 1 small package Valencia-style rice, 3/4 peeled large raw shrimp, 1 small bag frozen petite peas, 1 small bunch fresh tarragon, 1 small package saffron and 1 small bag washed, ready-to-eat French or Italian salad blend.
Staples: olive oil, olive oil spray, onion, minced garlic, fat-free, low-salt chicken broth, low-fat salad dressing, salt and black peppercorns.
Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer
Olive oil spray
1 cup sliced onion
2 cups sliced leeks (whites only)
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tomatoes, cut into eighths
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup Valencia-style rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1 1/2-cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen petite peas
3/4 pound peeled large shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil spray. Add the onion, leeks, garlic and tomatoes and saute over medium heat 5 minutes.
Push the vegetables to the side and add the olive oil to the cleared area of the skillet. Stir in the rice for 2 minutes.
Sprinkle on the saffron and then add the broth. Stir well and bring to a boil and draw in all vegetables. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the peas and shrimp. Simmer 2 minutes more, stirring the shrimp to cook on all sides.
The paella is ready when the broth has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle tarragon on top.
Yield 2 servings.
Per serving: 573 calories (14 percent from fat), 9 g fat (1.2 g saturated, 3.9 g monounsaturated), 276 mg cholesterol, 49.6 g protein, 78.8 g carbohydrates, 10.6 g fiber, 400 mg sodium.
(Linda Gassenheimer is the author, most recently, of "Delicious One-Pot Dishes," featuring 60 recipes designed to be stewed, braised, slow-cooked or steamed, each in a single pot. Additional titles by Gassenheimer include "Quick and Easy Chicken," "Simply Smoothies: Fresh & Fast Diabetes-Friendly Snacks & Complete Meals," "Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table" and "The Flavors of the Florida Keys." Her website is dinnerinminutes.com. Follow her on Twitter @lgassenheimer. Email: email@example.com)