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We are craving all things comfort and spice over here so I thought I’d whip up a fun twist on a classic paella with a hearty and family-friendly Pasta Paella featuring fresh veggies, chicken, sausage, mussels and shrimp – and a good dose of smoked paprika!
Paella is a classic Spanish dish that is usually pretty pricey in restaurants – and understandably so with 4 different types of meat, fresh produce, expensive spices and a long cook time.
However, making it at home you can make it much more affordably and customize the spices to your family’s personal preference. I used fresh spices (parsley, thyme, bay, paprika and saffron) in our recipe but as long as you don’t leave out the paprika, you will still end up with a delicious dish your entire family will love.
You can even swap out the meats or seafood that you use. Typically I would use a chorizo sausage and clams in a paella but they didn’t have clams and I forgot the sausage during our shopping trip – and it still tasted great.
One thing that I want to point out while using fresh clams or mussels is how to check the mussels for freshness.
Rinse your mussels with cold water and then look over each one to ensure it is closed and has no cracks. If the mussel appears to be open, tap it against a hard surface. If the mussel closes back up – it’s fresh. If it stays open – toss it.
Mussels that don’t open up during the cooking process should also be tossed.
This pasta paella is creamy, smoky and full of amazing flavor contrasts. The crunchy sweet bell pepper, the fresh and juicy tomatoes, the seafood and the smoky sausages – there is so much going on with this dish but it all works beautifully.
This dish is a classic for a reason and substituting pasta for the rice makes it more hearty and family friendly. (And it also makes for better left-overs.) Barilla is a blank canvas for any Latin flavors to put a unique twist to an Italian favorite.
Ingredients for Pasta Paella
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3-4 chicken thighs, skin on, chopped
- 4 sausages, chopped
- 15 large shrimp
- 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2-3 cups Barilla elbow pasta
- 1/2 cup Barilla Marinara pasta sauce
- 1-16oz carton stock
- 1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
- 4 plum or vine tomatoes, chopped and divided
- 1 lb mussels
- 4 sprigs thyme (1 teaspoon if using dried)
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, optional
- Pinch saffron, optional
- Parsley, chopped, optional garnish
- 1 lemon, quartered
- use a chorizo sausage for a smoky and more authentic flavor.
- Add clams, lobster, crab, white fish – any seafood your kids enjoy.
- Use either smoky or sweet paprika for your desired flavor.
Kitchen Tools You May Find Helpful
- Paella pan (or large frying pan, at least 4-5″ deep)
- Wooden spoon or flat spatula
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring spoons
- Meat thermometer
How to Make Pasta Paella
Place your olive oil in your paella pan over medium heat.
Once the oil is hot, add your onion and stir occasionally until translucent, about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped chicken and sausages. Cook until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and shrimp and cook until the garlic is browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the Barilla pasta, stock and Barilla marinara pasta sauce.
Cook for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring often, and then reduce heat to medium and add the chopped pepper and 2 of the chopped tomatoes.
Add your chosen seasonings, taste and adjust, then add in the mussels.
Cover and let cook for 5 more minutes.
Remove the cover and give it a good stir. Remove any mussels that have not opened.
Taste and re-season as needed.
Sprinkle 2 fresh tomatoes and fresh parsley overtop.
Serve with wedges of lemon.
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We purchased our Barilla pasta and sauce at Meijer with these coupons.
For more delicious fusion recipes using Barilla pasta and sauces and to enter the sweepstakes (every entry wins a prize), click here.
My daughter went crazy for this pasta paella and it has enough serious foodie cred to keep me happy, too! It would be the perfect dish to prepare for someone you want to impress with your culinary skills – it impresses without being fussy.