October 16, 2021

Quick Fix: This chicken and rice dish isn’t paella, but who cares?

By anaheimsigns

This weeknight chicken and rice dish certainly isn’t a classical paella, yet it hits many similar flavor notes. I nabbed the recipe long ago from a Weight Watchers’ cookbook, “WeightWatchers’ All-Time Favorites” (Wiley, $29.95). The authors avoid the calling it paella, instead dubbing it “Spanish Chicken and Rice.”

The technique is modified as are many of the ingredients. It’s not paella, but it is delicious.

Spanish Chicken and Rice

Yield: 4 servings


About 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

2 red bell peppers, seeded, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crushed with fingers, loosely packed

1 (3-inch) strip lemon zest, removed with a vegetable peeler

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

One 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 cup frozen peas

12 small pimiento-stuffed green olives

Optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large, deep nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to plate; set aside.

2. On medium-high heat, add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet. Add bell peppers, onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in rice, saffron, and lemon zest; cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add oregano, tomatoes (with juice), broth and chicken; bring to boil, stirring constantly and pushing rice down.

3. Reduce heat and gently simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed, and chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in peas and olives; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and cover; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. If desired, garnish with cilantro.

Source: Adapted from “WeightWatchers’ All-Time Favorites” (Wiley, $29.95). In this version boneless and skinless chicken thighs are used instead of the recommended bone-in thighs, and salt and pepper for the most part relies on taste rather than measurements. According to the book each serving is valued at 9 points.

Have a cooking question? Contact Cathy Thomas at [email protected] com.