I love New Orleans food, especially jambalaya with its subtle spiciness and one-pot mix of vegetables and proteins. The dish is easily customized to fit seasonal, local and whatever is in the fridge, freezer, or pantry ingredients. To that end, for this recipe I substituted a Spanish chorizo (which I had in my freezer ever since I bought it at the Fryeburg Fair) for the more traditional andouille, and chose orzo (rice-shaped pasta) instead of rice just because I felt like it.

Ingredients for jambalaya with a Few Twists prepped and at the ready. Photo courtesy of Dana Morris-Jones

For the vegetables, I used a mix of sweet red, orange and green peppers, including a poblano, a pepper that can be completely mild or pretty darn hot, plus celery, onion and zucchini. You can use canned, whole tomatoes or what you’ve got in your freezer, if you happen to have some tomatoes frozen from the previous year’s harvest, as I often do. For spices, I like Italian seasoning mix, paprika (not smoked) and cayenne to taste. Be sure to check how hot your sausage and peppers are before adding the cayenne. Use shrimp of any size, peeled or unpeeled, but their size will, of course, affect the cooking time.

These days I’m mostly cooking for two. Generally speaking I favor dishes that allow each person to have the proportion of vegetable, protein and starch that each prefers. I always want more vegetables than protein, while my partner prefers the opposite ratio. (I wouldn’t want to generalize to all men and women, but just sayin’ …) Dishes like this jambalaya work well to accommodate all sorts of eaters.

Dana Morris-Jones’ jambalaya. Photo courtesy of Dana Morris-Jones

Jambalaya with a Few Twists

All the measures below are to taste. I don’t measure much of anything when I cook. Also, I add the zucchini later in the cooking of this dish, to keep it from becoming mushy.

Serves about 4, depending on appetites


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 sweet peppers, cored and chopped
1/2 poblano pepper, cored and chopped
2 celery stalks, with leaves, chopped
1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, chopped
Salt to taste
1-2 good grind(s) fresh black pepper
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons paprika
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 (14-oz.) can whole tomatoes, with juice
1/2 – 1 cup white wine or chicken or vegetable broth or combination
1 medium zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup orzo
1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
Parsley, chopped

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the onion, peppers and celery, then stir and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and seasonings, and cook 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Add the tomatoes with their juices and bring the mixture up to simmer. Add the zucchini.

There should be enough liquid to cover all ingredients, plus enough to cover and cook orzo. If it seems too dry, add a little white wine or broth. When everything is simmering, add the orzo and shrimp, give it all a stir and cover. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the orzo is soft and the shrimp are done.

Add the chopped parsley, to the pot or to the serving bowls.

Dana Morris-Jones. Photo courtesy of Dana Morris-Jones


“Having lived in several states and abroad for a short period, I’ve developed a cooking repertoire and liking for a lot of different styles and flavors of food. My Midwest upbringing and family’s Eastern European roots exposed me to a lot of German and Russian meaty, stewy things. A stay in Scandinavia and a long stint in Maryland meant I had better love seafood. And later, working all over Europe encouraged me to try a lot of new things. My now grown children grew up trying all sorts of strange things and are still adventuresome eaters, a trait my grandchildren have repeated. Both my grandsons’ favorite meal is sushi!”

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