I mentioned in my last post that one of my prime reasons for learning to cook was to be able to make vegetables taste wonderful. This recipe is the epitome of delicious vegetables, as far as I’m concerned. It’s a take on about a million versions of jambalaya, turned into an unbelievably flavorful plate of meat and vegetables. Healthy eating should never boil down to boring, flavorless dishes.
If you’re unfamiliar with cooking dishes like jambalaya, then this is a good place to start. There’s a lot of prep work involved, but no tricky techniques, and the actual cooking is quick and easy.
My Jambalaya Zoodles start as all good Cajun and Cajun-inspired cooking does: with the holy trinity: onion, bell peppers, and celery, along with some diced tomatoes and garlic. The vegetables are coated in a blend of spices and sauteed in butter. They’re taken off the heat while shrimp and andouille sausage are cooked with more seasoning. After that, everything is combined in the pan with chicken stock, and reduced until the meat and vegetables have soaked up all the flavor. The zucchini is added last, cooked in with everything else until barely tender, and then it’s time to serve!
The zucchini is a fabulous base for this combination of meat and sauce. I find that zoodle recipes are often either underwhelming in texture, or drenched in a cream sauce that leaves them feeling heavy in your stomach. These Jambalaya Zoodles have loads of interesting textures going on, between the crunch of the zucchini, the soft peppers and onions, and the hearty shrimp and sausage. This dish is a little spicy, but not so hot that you can’t truly appreciate the flavor. You can always reduce or increase the cayenne and pepper to adjust to your liking – just remember that a little cayenne goes a very long way. I’ve learned this the hard way!
If shrimp and andouille sausage aren’t your thing, you can use chicken instead and still end up with an amazing dinner. Beef or pork would probably be delicious as well, although I haven’t tried them in this recipe. It would be a wonderful meatless dish as well, perhaps with pasta mixed in with the zoodles, or mushrooms in place of the meat.
Since this isn’t a recipe for a true jambalaya, there’s no need to worry that what you end up with isn’t technically right. This recipe doesn’t pretend to be Cajun jambalaya like you’ll find in New Orleans. This is a take on the deep, spicy flavors of jambalaya, with a healthy twist. Once you taste this dish, you’ll never want to flavor anything else differently. And you’ll probably spend a few hours casually planning a dream trip to New Orleans to try some truly authentic jambalaya. In my head, I’m headed to Louisiana tomorrow. In real life, I’m making this for dinner tonight to dull the pain of an existence that doesn’t support snap-decision excursions to interesting places.
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 Tbsps butter
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1 lb shrimp
- 1 lb andouille sausage (about 5 links)
- 2 Tbsp white wine
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 3 medium zucchinis - about 9 cups of zoodles when spiralized
Note: This recipe requires a fairly sizeable skillet - I used a 12 inch skillet. A wok would also do a great job.
Step 1: Stir together cayenne, pepper, salt, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and basil. Spiralize three zucchinis. Roughly chop the spirals so you don't end up with very long zoodles.
Step 2: Thinly slice peppers, onion, and celery. Mince garlic. Add peppers, onion, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and butter to a large skillet. Stir in half the blend of seasonings. Cook on high heat until vegetables are soft and starting to brown.
Step 3: Prick sausages all over with a fork and place in another skillet over medium heat. Pour in just enough water to come about a quarter of the way up the sides of the sausages. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until any remaining water in the skillet has evaporated and sausages are golden brown. Remove sausages from heat, cut into pieces, and set aside.
Step 4: When vegetables have started to brown, remove from skillet and set aside. Do not clean the skillet. Add the shrimp to the same skillet and sprinkle the remaining spice blend over top. Cook shrimp on high heat just until they turn uniformly pink.
Step 5: Reduce heat to medium, and return sausage and cooked vegetables to the skillet with the shrimp. Pour about a cup of chicken stock into the skillet, and let cook, stirring occasionally.
Step 6: Stir together corn starch and wine. When chicken stock has reduced by half, pour corn starch and wine mixture into the skillet and stir. Continue cooking until the sauce begins to thicken.
Step 7: Pour remaining chicken stock into the skillet, let cook for three more minutes. Add zucchini to the skillet and cook just until it becomes tender. Remove from heat and serve!