WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

Recently I noticed paella made with pasta instead of rice at a Catalonian restaurant in Miami. The chef told me it's a centuries-old dish from the Mediterranean areas of Spain.

Paella made with saffron-flavored rice takes at least 20 minutes to cook. Using orzo, a rice shaped pasta, this version takes only 8 minutes. It captures the flavors of the longer-cooking paella without the effort.

Saffron, which is sold powdered or in threads, provides a delicate, aromatic flavor. Turmeric or bijol can be used instead.

Spanish-style chorizo is a smoked sausage flavored with garlic and paprika. (Don't substitute Mexican chorizo, a fresh sausage.)

Open a bag of washed, ready to-eat salad and serve with your favorite salad dressing to complete this quick dinner.

Fred Tasker's wine suggestion: I'd drink a rioja with the Spanish-inspired dish.

PAELLA PRIMAVERA WITH CHORIZO

Makes 2 servings

1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon saffron

1 cup chopped frozen onion

1 cup sliced zucchini

2 ounces diced chorizo sausage (about 1/2 cup)

2/3 cup orzo

1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup drained, sliced roasted red pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring chicken broth, water and saffron to a boil in a medium-size, nonstick skillet. Add onion, zucchini, chorizo and orzo. Stir, bring back to a boil and cook 5 minutes. (If not using a nonstick pan, stir often to keep orzo from sticking.) If pan becomes dry, add more broth. Add asparagus, peas and roasted red pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per serving: 439 calories (26 percent from fat), 12.5g fat (4.4g saturated, 5.4g monounsaturated), 25mg cholesterol, 20.9g protein, 62.4g carbohydrates, 8.1g fiber, 370mg sodium

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