Brown Rice Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken Sausage and Bell Peppers

August 21, 2013 | | | | | |

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brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppersI have terrible news…

My girl group is breaking up.

I have briefly mentioned the collective greatness of my college girlfriends before, but in case you missed that, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. Meg Starr, Lara, Daphne, and Annabel are my besties, and they are the tits. As Cher Horowitz once said, “We’re friends because we know what it’s like for people to be jealous of us.” Psych. (But seriously, we are the funniest, smartest, prettiest girls we know.)

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 7.51.08 PMBy some act of the New York City housing gods, the five of us have spent the past two years living within a ten-block radius of each other, which is convenient for several reasons. Such proximity facilitates impromptu group dinners, outfit consultation, casual cocktails, and Sunday hugs. However, our idyllic communal life is about to be shattered. And it’s all Meg Starr and Annabel’s faults.

Let’s start with Meg Starr. She is moving to California just because she got into Stanford Business School. While I’m incredibly proud of her, and I’m sure she’s going to become a very busy and important mogul in the not-so-distant future, I find her decision to pick up and move to Palo Alto somewhat selfish. It would have been much easier for the group if she had just gotten her degree from a school in New York, or better yet, from the University of Phoenix. (I think the flexibility of an online program would have been good for all of us.) Starr will learn her lesson the hard way when she wakes up to 679 messages on the group text every morning because she’s three hours behind. She’s never had great foresight.

As if losing one group member wasn’t bad enough, Annabel decided to up and leave too. She is moving to Boston with her boyfriend, Matt, who is also starting business school this fall. I’m going to ignore the fact that Annabel got an awesome job opportunity and has family in Boston because I choose to blame Matt. If it weren’t for his selfish desire to be roommates with Annabel, we wouldn’t have to deal with this incredible inconvenience. All I have to say is, at least she’ll be in the same time zone.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-2This sudden splitting of the group has come as quite a shock. I mean, I guess I knew that we would all be separated at some point, but I thought the timeline would be similar to that of my becoming a celebrity. So, like, in the next couple of years, not immediately. That said, I’m pretty concerned about my future social life. And my phone bill.

However, in the spirit of looking on the bright side, Daphne, Lara and I will still be together, and realistically, a three person friend group is much more manageable. Planning things will be less complicated and it will be significantly easier to get dinner reservations. Plus, Lara is in nursing school and Daphne does something with computers (I still don’t understand her job description fully), so at least I will be healthy and tech savvy. I can’t say the same for Starr and Annabel.

Last week was particularly difficult, knowing that both Annabel and Starr’s departures were imminent. We decided that this past Sunday would be our very last Sex and the City Night, and everyone was to come to my apartment for dinner. Naturally, I planned to make something delicious and healthy that didn’t involve cheese. (Annabel doesn’t eat cheese, which, needless to say, has been a stumbling block in our relationship.) I wanted the recipe to be simple enough that I wouldn’t have to waste precious time in the kitchen once everyone arrived, or spend hours cleaning up after they tearfully departed, so I finally settled on Brown Rice Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken Sausage and Bell Peppers.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-4I was very excited to make this jambalaya for our last group meal, but then something unforgivable happened. Everyone bailed. The group text was alight with excuses and apologies on Sunday afternoon, which I grudgingly accepted, responding, “Don’t worry!! I’m just going to write about how terrible you all are on my blog since I had such a nice meal planned.” Clearly, that was not an empty threat.

So, instead of enjoying jambalaya with my girlz on Sunday night, I went to see Elysium and ate popcorn for dinner…both of which were poor decisions. However, when Monday afternoon rolled around, this brown rice jambalaya was still on my mind. While I didn’t have a group of girls coming to dinner, I did have a hungry Logan hanging around, so I decided to get busy. An hour later, my apartment smelled pretty boss, and I had a piping hot pot of jambalaya and a very excited roommate on my hands.

This brown rice jambalaya is bomb. It’s hearty, but not overly heavy, and it’s bursting with Creole flavors. Tender shrimp, andouille chicken sausage, fire roasted tomatoes and a mix of bell peppers and spices combine to create an incredibly satisfying pot of awesomeness that’s sweet and spicy with a hint of smokiness. The brown rice takes on a risotto-like texture, and the sliced scallions and chopped cilantro add crunch and a bright freshness to the dish. A splash of hot sauce just before serving will only add to the serious party in your mouth.

Not only is this jambalaya unbelievably dank, it’s also surprisingly healthy. The whole grain brown rice is high in fiber and anti-oxidants, and it’s rich in manganese, which helps the body synthesize fats and benefits your nervous system. The bell peppers in this recipe are full of Vitamin C, E, and B6, and contain several anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich phytochemicals, and the shrimp and chicken sausage pack a sizable protein punch with very little fat. Plus, cayenne pepper apparently speeds up your metabolism, so this jambalaya may actually make you thinner. (Magic!) And yes, it’s 100% Dude Diet approved.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-3I’m sure many of you are looking at this jambalaya and thinking, “Wow, that looks fancy, Serena. I’m not sure I can make that.” First of all, thank you. It is fancy. However, you can most definitely make this recipe, which is neither difficult nor time-consuming in the slightest. In fact, Brown Rice Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken Sausage and Bell Peppers is the ultimate one-pot wonder. Yes, you’ll have to spend 7-10 minutes dicing a few things, but after that (ridiculously easy) grunt work, the rest is gravy. You do a couple minutes of sautéing the sausage and vegetables before adding the spices, brown rice and stock, and then you just throw the lid on and let the jambalaya chillax on the stove for 50 minutes. Stir in the shrimp right at the end, and five minutes later you’re ready to serve your feast. Idiot-proof, right? Right.

Obviously, I want you to make all my recipes (because they’re awesome), but please bump this one to the top of the list. This jambalaya is one of those rare recipes that can be crushed year-round. It’s light enough for a cool summer night, yet it has enough depth to keep you warm in the middle of winter. The recipe can easily be doubled for a larger crowd, and you can always prepare the jambalaya in advance, re-heat it and add the shrimp just before serving, making it a fuss-free choice for entertaining. I will most likely make this for our next group reunion (which will hopefully be sooner rather than later), and I’m sure it will make the two deserters seriously regret their decisions to move…

Blogger’s Note: Please excuse the fact that all of the pictures in this post are mildly neon. I’m still learning how to speak DSLR.

Brown Rice Jambalaya with Shrimp, Chicken Sausage and Bell Peppers: (Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 links Andouille chicken sausage, diced
½ large yellow onion, diced
1½ bell peppers, seeded and diced (I like a mix of colors.)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus extra if needed
One 14.5-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1¼ cup short-grain brown rice
3½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
For garnish:
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preparing your Jambalaya:
-Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the diced chicken sausage and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned.

Brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-and-bell-peppers-step-1-Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-step-2-Add the smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, salt and cayenne and cook for 1 minute until toasted and fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, and bring the mixture to a simmer.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-step-3-Once at a simmer, stir in the brown rice and cook for 1 minute, and then add the chicken broth. (It will look very soupy. Don’t panic, you’re doing things right.) Bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 50 to 55 minutes or until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Taste your jambalaya and season with a little extra salt and cayenne if necessary.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-step-4-Mix the shrimp into the jambalaya, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the shrimp are bright pink and opaque.

brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-step-5brown-rice-jambalaya-with-shrimp-chicken-sausage-and-bell-peppers-step-6-Ladle the jambalaya into bowls and garnish with sliced scallions and chopped cilantro. Serve with your fanciest hot sauce and go wild.


I’m thrilled to be a part of Food Network’s Summer Fest this week. For more awesome recipes featuring bell peppers, check out the badass blogs below.

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: How to Use Bell Peppers Six Ways
Feed Me Phoebe: Spanish-Style Shrimp and Squid Skewers with Red Pepper Sofrito
The Heritage Cook: Poblano Pepper, Corn and Potato “Chowder” Salad
Dishing: Bell Peppers Chutney/ Capsicum Chutney
The Lemon Bowl: Red Pepper Salsa
Weelicious: Bell Pepper Egg Flowers
Taste With The Eyes: Cheeseburger Bloody Mary with Cherry Peppers and Pickles
Blue Apron Blog: Roadside Noodles with Bell Peppers, Tomatoes and Broccoli Raab
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Italian Pork Chops with Peppers and Chiles on Buttered Egg Noodles
Red or Green: Green Chile Pork Stew
Devour: Stuffed Peppers 5 Ways
Chez Us: Grilled Eggplant and Carmen Pepper Pizza
Daily*Dishin: Marinated Peppers and Shrimp New Orleans Style
FN Dish: Sensational Stuffed Peppers

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  1. gsmith on January 24, 2017 at 11:59 am

    my wife made this last night using the recipe from the DD book and it was fantastic. Both of our children really liked it and it is now on the menu for the Superbowl gathering.

  2. Kay DeGraffenreid on April 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Hi. I wanted to ask if a person could use cauliflower rice instead of brown rice so wouldn’t have so many carbs from the rice and how to go about doing it.

    • Serena Wolf on April 26, 2016 at 8:46 am

      Hi, Kay. Unfortunately, this won’t really work with cauliflower rice in the same way. Cauliflower won’t soak up liquid or release starch like brown rice does, and the texture would be essentially soup (instead of risotto-like). To make a cauliflower dish with a similar flavor profile, you could try eliminating the chicken stock and adding a head of riced cauliflower after step 3. Cook for about 5 minutes until it’s tender. I would recommend cooking the shrimp separately and then adding it to each cauli rice bowl. Hope this helps!

      • Kay DeGraffenreid on April 26, 2016 at 8:06 pm

        Thanks so much!

  3. Allison on November 18, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Hiya! I’ve made this before…sooo yummy…and I want to make it again for a potluck coming up. But at least one vegetarian will be in attendance. Do you think I could use tofu instead of the sausage/shrimp? Or do you have any other suggestions?

    • Serena_Wolf on November 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      Hmmm…I don’t love the idea of tofu for this, unless it was dry-fried and added at the last minute? I actually think this could stand alone sans meat/shrimp, but you could also bulk it up with some diced portobello caps! (Sorry I don’t have more options–but this is a tough one!)

      • Allison on November 18, 2015 at 4:52 pm

        Yea it’s tough question 😛 portobello is a good idea, I was thinking less creatively (just leave it without meat or add a lot more peppers or something. Maybe carrots. Maybe sweet potato would be good to give it a little more bulk). Thanks for the super fast reply!

  4. Randa on October 27, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    I made this 2 nights ago and OHMYSTARS. It was and still is fantastic. So happy that I came across this blog! Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!

    • Serena_Wolf on October 30, 2015 at 9:44 am

      AH! Thank you, Randa–thrilled you found the blog! This is one of my all-time favorites, so I’m glad it was such a hit!

  5. Toni Mihos on June 6, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Quick question, can I use black rice?

  6. Juli Jansen on February 20, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    made this tonight using Andouille and Chicken but no shrimp. Added 1/4 tsp cayenne. It was delish. Definitely a keeper. Love that it uses brown rice.

    • Serena_Wolf on February 23, 2015 at 10:41 am

      Love to hear that, Juli!! And I’m fully on board with a hefty dose of cayenne.

  7. Peggy Niana on February 18, 2015 at 11:52 am

    I made this last night for Fat Tuesday. We are supposed to be in the middle of a detox but we planned (somewhat) poorly, forgetting Fat Tuesday would fall during this time (although fasting for Ash Wed is quite appropriate!). I was happy to find this healthy Jambalaya recipe and even happier after making it. This is fabulous! I only made slight changes by tossing my prawns with Old Bay before adding to the dish and adding a bay leaf to the rice while it cooked. This will be made again and again! Thank you!!

    • Serena_Wolf on February 20, 2015 at 9:46 am

      This is fabulous to hear, Peggy!! And tossing the shrimp with Old Bay was a genius move. I’m 100% going that route next time I make this.

  8. Banke Kayode on February 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Yes! Just yes!! I just made this and it was absolutely amazing… Thank you for the recipe! I accidentally bought chicken broth instead of chicken stock and went ahead and used the broth and it still came out tasting delicious.

    • Serena_Wolf on February 18, 2015 at 8:55 am

      YES! Thrilled to hear this, Banke!

  9. Ansh on February 17, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I did come looking for a jambalaya recipe that was healthier. But I am leaving with laughs and giggles and a feeling that I am going to be reading your blog more often.

    • Serena_Wolf on February 18, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Thank you, Ansh! Hope you’ll be back soon (and that you try this badass jambalaya!).

  10. Mo on October 18, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Made this the other night for my fiancé – he LOVED it! He got the groceries and picked up instant brown rice instead of regular, which I decided to go ahead and try. It still worked just fine, just kept an eye on it so it didn’t overcook. Definitely going to have to make it again! Makes plenty of leftovers and it is so filling! Might try adding some beans and corn next time. 🙂

    • Serena_Wolf on October 20, 2014 at 9:06 am

      So glad to hear this was such a hit! (And good to know that instant rice works in a pinch.) Love the idea of adding some beans or corn to mix things up.

  11. Karen Higgins on October 13, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    How hard is it to find chicken Andouille sausage? I imagine that normally it’s made with pork?

    • Serena_Wolf on October 14, 2014 at 8:34 am

      They usually carry chicken Andouille sausage at my grocery store, but you’re right, it’s usually made with pork. You could also use spicy Italian chicken sausage (very common), or go ahead and use the pork version. (Honestly, it will be delicious with pretty much any sausage.)

  12. Lyneah Lindstrom on September 12, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Q: Should the rice be instant? Sorry for another rice question…lol

    • Serena_Wolf on September 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Haha, I obviously love rice questions! No, you should use regular brown rice, not instant.

  13. Michele LeFave on August 27, 2014 at 6:43 am

    This may be a silly questions- but should the rice be cooked prior to adding it, or will it cook up in the jambalaya? Looking forward to trying this and love that I’ve discovered your blog!

    • Serena_Wolf on August 27, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Not a silly question at all! The rice should be uncooked when you add it, and it will cook while the jambalaya simmers. So happy you found the blog, and I hope this is a huge hit!

  14. Kera Lyman on April 1, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    I never comment. This, however, I couldn’t ignore. This dish was amazing! We added a tad bit of sour cream as garnish (because we are rebellious like that)… Best thing I’ve ever made. Thank you!

    • Serena_Wolf on April 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Thanks, Kera! Nothing makes me happier than when people love this jambalaya as much as I do (I make it an embarrassing amount). And rebelling with sour cream was an EXCELLENT choice.

  15. Nicole Barnette on November 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I don’t usually comment on recipes, but I made this today and it was fantastic! I added a pound of baby carrots chopped up and upped the bell peppers a tab, but the trick is always in the seasoning and this was spot on. It came out creamy and delicious. Thanks for a great recipe. I will come back for more.

    • Serena_Wolf on November 18, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Nicole- I’m thrilled this was such a success! This is one of my favorite recipes, so I’m always excited to hear when people try it and love it. Thanks for letting me know, and great call on adding more vegetables.

  16. N.A on October 24, 2013 at 1:27 am

    I made this a while ago and recently had a craving, so here I am again! I love, love, love this recipe. It turns out amazing. Thanks so much!

    • Serena_Wolf on October 24, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Amazing! So glad that you love it, it’s one of my favorites!

  17. Mandy on August 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    This does look delicious! I noticed in the directions you mentioned adding Cayenne pepper, but it wasn’t in the list of ingredients above. How much do you add initially? I’m sure I’ll add more, but just curious! 😉


    • Serena Wolf on August 23, 2013 at 11:37 am

      Thanks for pointing that out, Mandy!! I would start with a pinch. I added about 1/8 of a teaspoon, which gives it a SERIOUS kick, but I would start with half of that and just keep adding it slowly and tasting until it’s hot enough for you.

  18. taylor @ taylormade on August 22, 2013 at 6:41 am

    first of all, I’m jealous that you EVER got to live that close to all of your best friends post-college. not fair! second of all, this jambalaya looks amaaaaazing! I am pinning it to make ASAP. love that you make comfort food healthy!

    • Serena Wolf on August 22, 2013 at 9:34 am

      Thanks, Taylor! I know, I’ve been spoiled by the best friend proximity…which is why this breakup is so horrific. Hope you love the jambalaya, it’s one of my fave things in a while. Also, I want to try that kale almond pesto you posted, stat.

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