Quick Chicken Paella

So far, I’ve posted some recipes and ideas for feeding children breakfast and lunch, but I needed to add a recipe that is appropriate for a family dinner.  I thought long and hard about what recipe to post here because it had to meet so many criteria. It is a rare dinner recipe that appeals to both children and adults, is nutritious, fairly quick to prepare and doesn’t blow the grocery budget. My sister finally came to the rescue with a recipe for Chicken Paella that she often cooks for her family. Our mom used to make this dish when we were growing up but I had forgotten just how easy and delicious it is. Chicken Paella meets all the requirements listed above and is also a beautiful, colorful dish which I have found appeals to many children.

The recipe below is the exact one pictured in this post, but you can easily adapt it to the tastes of your family or the ingredients you happen to have on hand.  My mom most often made this recipe with half chicken and half smoked sausage but I also like it made with a pound of shrimp added at the end with the peas. Some other possible adaptions include leaving out the meat all together for a vegetarian version, substituting green bell pepper for some of the red, omiting the peas, or adding a sprinkling of crushed red pepper along with the saffron for a spicier dish. I also sometimes substitute dry white wine for half of the chicken broth to add a little extra richness. This is a great, basic recipe that can be adapted and changed endlessly, so get creative and, as always, I’d love to know how it turns out for you!

Quick Chicken Paella

Serves 4 adults or 6 children


2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice

2 1/4 cups chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon dried saffron

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes ground up with a blender

3/4 cup frozen peas

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat until hot.  Add the cubed chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes.  Add the onion, thyme and bay leaf to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add the bell pepper, rice, chicken broth, saffron, salt, pepper and tomatoes and stir to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the rice is tender.

3. Once the rice is cooked, taste the rice and add salt and pepper if needed. Pour the frozen peas into the pot and let them sit on top of the rice mixture without stirring.  Continue to cook for 5 more minutes or until the peas are warmed through.  Stir the peas into the rice mixture and serve immediately in a warm dish.