A classic Spanish rice dish gets a healthy makeover in this easy, one pot chicken and shrimp paella recipe made with barley, zucchini, bell peppers, peas, smoked paprika, and turmeric. I absolutely adore ordering this dish when dining out because it arouses all of my senses! It’s not only stunning to look at, but the fragrant aroma, and of course all the intricate flavors are just oh so heavenly. I admit, my version is not as fancy and intricate, but it is super easy to make at home and is a great way to use up whatever ingredients you have on hand. It’s an inexpensive and nutritious comfort food that the entire family will love! And the best part is that you’ll have leftovers for days. I personally think this dish tastes better the next day.
I opted to swap out the rice with barley, but you can certainly use the traditionally used short-grain rice or other grains, if you prefer. I adore barley for its chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor. It’s also a good source of fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals, such as folate, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. If interested in another healthy and delicious barley recipe, check out these broccoli barley casserole cups!
Traditionally, paella contains saffron, which infuses great depth of flavor as well as give the dish a nice yellow tint. However, it’s a bit pricey, and I didn’t want to purchase the whole container just to use a couple threads. I chose to add smoked paprika and turmeric instead, which I’ve also seen in a lot of paella recipes. If you do have some saffron on hand though, by all means, throw them into the pot!
I made this for my 12 month old baby, who’s been self-feeding (we took the baby led weaning approach) since he was 7.5 months old, and he absolutely inhaled it! If you’re also making this to share with your baby, I’ve included some suggested modifications in the recipe notes section.
- 1 lb chicken pieces, cut into bite sized pieces (I used thigh but you can use breast)
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 1 med onion, sliced thinly
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 2 Tbs minced garlic
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- To serve: fresh lime juice, cilantro or parsley
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-based pot. Season diced chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the veggies, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until they start to soften and then stir in the garlic and tomato paste. Cook for another 2 minutes, and then add paprika and turmeric. Stir in the tomatoes, barley, and chicken broth.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook until barley is just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Turn the heat off. Stir in the shrimp, lemon juice, and half the scallions. Cover the pot for about 5 to 6 minutes. The residual heat will cook the shrimp perfectly! The shrimp should be pink and curled into “C” shape.
- Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top, garnish with cilantro or parsley
Don’t season the chicken with salt and pepper or use a little bit
Can use water instead of broth
look for no-sodium added canned diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)