Cali Girl meets Southern Gal's Jambalaya
The garage door creaked, as it slowly made it's way up. Hat on. Hair in a ponytail. Top down.
It had become a weekly thing. And each week, as the engine roared to a start, after being tucked away neatly in the garage, there were sighs of relief. Kind of like after those long holidays, where you hope your car starts after sitting in the airport parking lot... just one day too long.
We'd been living on the edge.
I didn't think I'd ever understood why a few months back, my man would even consider buying this 1999 Camaro. Although, as a child of the '70s, it didn't sound all that old, until I did the math. Fourteen years old, to be exact. And a mileage that with previous cars, would have also led us to the dealership, but for very different reasons.
A play car. And a convertible- well, that's fun, right? But it's loud. And it reminds me of a high school kid, revving his engine, with much to prove. Racing with the wind- not to mention anything or anyone on the road up for a challenge. A bronze beast that's completely opposite of my beloved car... which is now known as my "old lady car."
But today, as we took the beast out for a spin, I glanced over and saw the look on his face, and I finally got it.
It wasn't just about his teenage dream car. It was about something more. It was about those few moments each week where he could sit back and relax, let his hair fly in the wind, breathe in the fresh air, and feel like... well, a kid again.
It's his "low and slow."
So, this week's dinner is also about low and slow. Food that can't be rushed. Food that allows you to kick up your feet and breathe in the incredible smells, as the dish's flavors meld together. And food that brings you back to your youth... back to a simpler time.
And for my dish, I decided to create a twist on Jambalaya, with a California spin.
I changed out couscous for the rice, which added a soft, hearty texture (make sure and use the Israeli type... it's much bigger and has a fluffy bite). And the addition of spinach and artichokes were not only pretty and added extra nutrients, but also offered some cooling... which was helpful for a spice wimp like me! Don't like okra? These baby zucchinis were tasty and gave a similar visual effect.
And for the Holy Trinity, the yellow pepper offered a nice sweetness, instead of the traditional green or red. And since I'm allergic to celery, I switched it out for leeks, which has become my new favorite in just about every dish. And when combined with the pepper and onion, it offered incredible dimensions of flavor.
Finally, I decided on Italian sausage and chicken for the proteins, but you can use the traditional andouille sausage, plus seafood, like shrimp, which would be added at the end. Just make sure and opt for chicken tenders (and keep them whole), instead of the breasts. The moistness and flavor blended perfectly with the overall heat and textures in the dish, and kept us coming back for more... and more... and more.
Jambalaya with a California Twist
1 sweet onion, cut into thin half-moons
2 leeks, white part only, cut into coins
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
5-6 baby zucchini, cut into 1" rounds
1 can cup up tomatoes
1 can artichoke hearts
Chicken broth- about 3 cups
Creole seasoning to taste - I used Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (love this stuff!)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
A few handfuls of fresh spinach
1 package Israeli couscous
1 package chicken tenders, trimmed of tendons but kept whole
1 lb. spicy Italian sausage, cut into 1" pieces
Green onions, sliced, to garnish
Salt and pepper
In a large dutch oven, add in olive oil and heat up. Then add in onions, leeks and yellow peppers. Cook over medium-high heat until they are soft and caramelized. Add in dried seasonings, salt, pepper, and garlic. Saute for a few minutes to soften the garlic. Then add in the zucchini, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and sausage. Gently stir fry the sausage for about 4 minutes or until lightly browned.
Lay whole chicken tenders on top of all and sprinkle with Creole seasoning (I used about 1/2 tsp.) Place 2 bay leaves on top, and then add enough chicken broth in to cover the chicken.
Bring to a boil, and then turn down the heat. Cover and let cook for one hour.
After an hour, add in 8 ounces more chicken broth and the package of couscous. Replace cover and let cook for 30 more minutes on lowest heat setting.
Once couscous is cooked, remove bay leaves, and add in spinach. Stir for a minute or so to wilt, check seasonings, and add salt or pepper if needed. Top with green onion garnish, and serve.
What a great introduction Di! And the jambalaya sounds like the perfect thing for the colder days here. Though I´ve yet to make one, or cook israeli couscous for that matter. Have a great sunday!ReplyDelete
Thank so much Paula! I hope you give it a shot, you can change out the veggies/proteins to fit your taste! And I was scared of couscous until last year... now I love it. But I prefer the Israeli, which is like puffed up orzo pasta- yum! ;-)Delete
I love love love your version of jambalaya. I don't always care for it, mostly because of the rice, but Israeli couscous, yes please! I could it that for days on end.ReplyDelete
Thanks Susan! I agree on that, and I think you'll love this version!!! It makes a ton, and I'm looking forward to leftovers today too ;-)Delete
See that? That' me drooling over ARTICHOKES in my jambalaya!ReplyDelete
LOL! I know! Sounds odd, but oh so good ;-) Thanks Jen!Delete
Mmm I've only had Israeli cous cous once, but I bet it would be awesome in jambalaya. This sounds like a great recipe to try.ReplyDelete
Hi Lane! Thanks for stopping by, and hope you give it a try ;-)Delete
I love jambalaya and I love that you used couscous in it!!ReplyDelete
What an awesome twist! I'm actually finding this entirely irresistible...and I really want it in front of me right now.ReplyDelete
Thanks Heather! Glad it worked out in the end ;-) Goes to show it's a pretty user-friendly recipe... enjoy!Delete
I like these kind of meals all year.ReplyDelete
Me too, Cindy! Well after the "joy ride" yesterday, it ended up pouring, so it was even more lovely to eat it in the rain!Delete
I've had jamabalaya on my to make list for awhile now. I really love the changes you've made. It sounds wonderful.ReplyDelete
Thank you Amanda, it's so much easier than I thought it would be! ;-)Delete
Quinoa Jambalaya?! Brilliant. Simply brilliant. And I love the Camaro story at the beginning. Yes that's his 'low and slow.' I have a convertible here in Los Angeles too and I have many low and slow fun moments enjoying the roar of a great engine and the freedom of a lowered top.ReplyDelete
Great modifications and I can wait to give this recipe a try. Thanks.
Thanks Chris... and jealous, as I miss home! Born in Pasadena, then most of my life in Santa Barbara! Nothing like a convertible crusing by the beach! And thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoy the recipe!!Delete
I can throw down on some jambalaya. I'm loving your spin on it too. It's a nice change up plus I like Israeli couscous better than rice.ReplyDelete
Thanks Renee... I agree on the couscous over rice! Even though it's a pretty far cry from traditional, love that it used a pretty similar framework, and still had all that yummy heat!Delete
It sounds like you are having a good time with the convertible - sounds fun :) I am so hungry now...your Jambalaya with a California twist sounds so good! And yay to leeks - we love them as well... ~ Bea @ The Not So Cheesy KitchenReplyDelete
I've actually come to love the bronze beast these last few months, and hoping it will make it to the beach this summer ;-) Yay back to the leeks, and hope you enjoy this, Bea!!!Delete
This jambalaya looks so fabulous!! Love the twist and that you have been living on the edge!!ReplyDelete
Thanks Tara!!!! ;-) Hope you give it a shot!Delete
What a great post! The jambalaya looks amazing..so lovely!ReplyDelete
Thank you Erin! Still thinking about your awesome dish this week too, and plan to try this week! And again, welcome to #SundaySupper!Delete
Di..Loved the way the recipe sounded when you described it to me. Love it even more now that I've seen it! I must try this as I love Jambalaya!ReplyDelete
Awww... thanks, Martin!!! Loved the wine you chose to pair with it this week! And hope you give it a try, I think you'll really enjoy it! ;-)Delete
Oh my.......there are no words for this dish! I've always wanted to make my own Jambalaya! :)ReplyDelete
Hi Tammi! Thanks for stopping by, and so cool... hope you give it a try! ;-)Delete
Oooh, you added artichoke hearts!!! I MUST try this!!!!ReplyDelete
Fellow artichoke lover here too... good in anything, even jambalaya!!! ;-)Delete
Love jambalaya and this looks like such a healthy twist !! All those veggies & couscous ! I must try this. Looks beautiful !!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much Suni! I think you'll really enjoy the flavors, and it didn't feel heavy/greasy like some of the traditional ones! ;-)Delete
Loved the intro to this weeks #SundaySupper! Your Cali twist on the jambalaya sounds SO good. I want to try it and add some seafood... yum!ReplyDelete
Thanks Isabel! And yes, seafood would be great (we had shrimp the night before, so just went w/sausage and chicken!) I was thinking scallops would be incredible in this version too! ;-)Delete
I love your intro ! His low and slow, that's perfect ! I get it too. And I love this dish and your California take on it. It's perfect for a big crowd get-together, or a small dinner for family. Love it, and love your photo!!ReplyDelete
Thank you Susan! I agree... it makes a lot, and is also great for leftovers as the flavors meld together even more over the next few days!! Thanks for stopping by!Delete
Jambalaya with Israeli Couscous?!?!? I want to eat this. Right now. Genius idea.ReplyDelete
Thanks Lori! I love Israeli Couscous, and it really made the dish! Hope you enjoy it!Delete
Wow I have never seen a Jambalaya like this, what a fresh twist.ReplyDelete
Hi Laura! The veggies really did offer a freshness to it all ;-)Delete