I’m sort of on a health kick lately. Well, by ‘lately’, I mean the last 12 months or so. Nothing too strenuous, I just aim to eat well the majority of the time, and exercise a few times a week. You don’t want to overdo these things. The eating well part can be difficult with such a busy schedule. Some nights I don’t get home til around 8:00pm and by that stage, the last thing I can be bothered doing is cooking a laborious dinner. I do, however, still want it to be relatively healthy and wholesome. What’s the point of killing myself at the gym if I come home and fill my body up with rubbish? I want a dish that is both nourishing and delicious. And after not too long of being ‘healthy’, getting takeaway to make life easier no longer feels like a ‘treat’ because your body rebels against the extra fat and salt that it’s not used to. True story.
On nights like this, I have a few good go-to dishes, but my current favourite is this cheat’s Nando's Paella, which in itself isn't a true paella, but more a spicy Spanish Rice served with their chicken. My mother-in-law gives us a box of spices and sauces as part of our Christmas present every year, and it always has a couple of the Nando’s ones, so it’s more ‘authentically’ Nando’s paella than it otherwise would be. I add extra vegetables just to amp up our intake, these change depending on what I have in the house at the time. The best part of this dish is that it has so little active cooking time. I chuck the rice in the microwave while I go have a shower, come back and cook/assemble in around 10 minutes.
Cheat's Nando's Paella/Spanish Rice
Two cloves of garlic
One green chilli
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika (heaped)
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ tsp cumin seeds
a few coriander seeds
3 chicken thighs, diced
Half a punnet of cherry/grape tomatoes
Quarter head broccoli
Half cup frozen corn kernels
Half cup frozen peas
Nando’s sauces of choice
One cup rice of choice – here I used a pre-mixed product called “Rice Plus” which has brown rice, black rice, quinoa, sesame seeds, barley and quinoa. The black rice is what's turned it purple!
Fresh coriander/flatleaf parsley and a lemon wedge to serve.
Cook rice according to your preference – for me, I put 2 ½ cups water to 1 cup rice, then microwave for 22 minutes.
Fry scallions, garlic and chilli in a small amount of olive oil over a medium heat until soft and browning slightly.
Add lemon juice, zest, stir around well.
Throw diced chicken breasts into the pan and stir around to start browning, add the spices and mix well to coat the chicken.
Add your chosen vegetables, cut into small dice and stir around. Personally, I think the capsicum/paprika and tomato are almost non-negotiable. Everything else is. I also love this with lentils.
Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables have softened, then add the cooked rice and mix well to coat the rice with all the delicious spices and juices.
Serve with some the coriander/parsley, a lemon wedge and a big ol’ swirl of your favourite Nando’s sauce. I use a combination of the Lime Sweet Chilli and the “Hot” Peri Peri.
This would also be improved with bacon. Just saying.