Macaroni and Cheese Paella with shrimp and scallops

I was really excited about making this mac n cheese dish. While browsing Food Buzz and tweeting, I came across I thought to myself, oh man this is the ultimate seafood site. Being a Philly born now Floridian, you can understand my enthusiasm. Red just loves mac n cheese so, even though the hubby is on a low carb diet, I just couldn't resist. I did make a few changes in the ingredients, used what I had on hand. Our local grocer did not have smoked paprika or liquid smoke so I made an alteration there too. I cut the recipe in half, except for the wine, as it serves 8.

Macaroni and Cheese Paella with shrimp and scallops, my way!
1 lb - orzo pasta
3 Tbsp - olive oil
2 - large bay leaves
2 Tbsp - minced garlic, divided
1 lb - uncooked small or medium shrimp (51-60 or 41-50 count), shelled & deveined - three cups small salad size shrimp
1 lb - bay scallops
1/2 tsp - salt
1 tsp - small capers (optional)
2 Tbsp - Spanish smoked sweet paprika, or equivalent (see Cook’s Note) 1/2 Tbsp paprika + 1/2 Tbsp St Louis Mesquite seasoning
1/4 cup - white wine
1 - large sweet onion, chopped
3 Tbsp - chopped sun-dried tomatoes Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies and cilantro, drained well.
3 Tbsp - butter
2 Tbsp - all-purpose flour
1 cup - half  and half (or milk)
1 cup - chicken broth
1 cup - frozen peas, thawed (about 4 oz)
8 oz - sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
Additional salt, if needed
8 oz - pepper jack cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp - minced fresh dried parsley, divided
2 Tbsp - sliced green olives with pimento (optional)
1/4 cup - roasted sweet red pepper strips
Lemon for garnish (optional)

Cook orzo according to package directions to the al dente stage. When done, drain, rinse (to stop the cooking process) and set aside.

Meanwhile bring 3 tbsp olive oil and the bay leaves to medium heat in a large heavy skillet. Add half the garlic and saute a bit, do not let garlic brown. Add the shrimp, scallops, and 1/2 tsp salt; toss to coat. Add the capers, paprika, St Louis mesquite seasoning and stir until shrimp and scallops are well coated. When seafood is just cooked through, remove shrimp and scallops from pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the bay leaves and as much sauce as possible. Set shrimp and scallops aside.

Add the wine to the pan and stir, letting the alcohol cook off for a minute or two. Add the remaining garlic, the onions, and cook until the onions are just softened. Discard bay leaves.

Melt the butter in the pan with the onions. Add the flour, stirring for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour, then add the milk and chicken broth gradually, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens.

When the sauce has fully developed, add the peas and bring sauce to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and gradually add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese, stirring until melted. Adjust salt.

In a large non-stick paella pan or baking dish, combine the cheese sauce with the orzo and stir thoroughly to coat. Gently fold in half of the shrimp/scallop mix, the pepper jack cubes, and half of the parsley. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Top with remaining shrimp/scallop mixture, olives (if desired), Rotel and red pepper strips and return to oven for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining parsley.
Serves 8.

Cook’s Note: Smoked paprika, with its unique and delightful flavor, is the secret ingredient of classic Spanish cuisine and is well worth seeking out. It can be found at many gourmet shops, specialty food stores, or online. Though there is no direct substitute, an equivalent amount of good quality regular paprika with 2-3 drops of mesquite smoke flavoring added can be used with good results.

The original post at hugging the coast.

I was right to be excited about this seafood pasta paella, it was really delicious. Red ate at least three servings, and the hubby enjoyed a nice size serving along with his chicken. As you can see there was plenty of seafood on top, allowing him to avoid most of the carbs; he was quite impressed with the flavor. This turned out so well I'm going to make this my first entry to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by the lovely founder, Ruth Daniels, at Once Upon a Feast.

Are you hungry?


Frank said…
Wow, this sounds really good. Never occurred to me to combine paella flavors with mac and cheese but I bet it's yummy...
figtree said…
This looks soo good! Im a Philly girl too, where did you live in Philly! ?
hi there when you get a chance stop by my blog I have something for you :)
Awesome cheese with the shrimp and scallops sounds fabulous!
What an interesting combination - I think it was good there was no liquid smoke in the cupboard - this sounds good all on its own! ~Mary
Malar Gandhi said…
Oh my gosh, thats incredible bowl of treat:) Looks and sounds amazing combo' of taste:) Clearly I want to grab my fork already:) Thanks for sharing this awesoem recipe...I appreciate it. And link to the site' is very thoughtful:)
Catherine said…
This sounds delicious Kathy! So yummy!
Jen said…
Ooh that looks so good! I'd have never thought to dress up mac and cheese that way. I think I'd rather use the larger shrimp but only because I have some in the freezer, possibly freezer burnt but I bet that wouldn't matter with all the flavor.
FOODalogue said…
Very unique. I couldn't get over here fast enough when I saw the title posted on twitter. :) I think I would have added saffron or a packet of Sazón to push it even more to the paella flavors. What do you think?
lisaiscooking said…
I love all the flavors of paella, and it sounds great as a pasta dish!
Redkathy said…
Oh yeah Joan, I think you're right a packet of Sazón would have been great, I love that stuff. Maybe the one con Cilantro, too bad I didn't think of that!
Thanks so much for sharing our recipe! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

Love how you crossed out the ingredients you didn't have in the original recipe, then shared your substitutions...very clever!
Angie said…
OMG! I love it! I will be doing this one soon for sure. I have been to that site before too, but had forgotten about out. Thanks for the reminder, its a great site. I have been craving seafood, especially wanting to get one of those giant burlap bags of oysters.
Drick said…
love the way you made this dish, many ingredients but all of our favorites - looks beautiful and a very hearty meal ... can't go wrong with either seafood or mac-n-cheese, both in the same pot gotta be awesome
Ruth Daniels said…
Wow, what a fantastic first entry for Presto Pasta Nights. I love the notion of combining mac 'n cheese and paella.

Thanks so much for sharing...what are you going to make for next week's roundup ;-)
Reeni said…
This looks incredible! I've never seen a dish like this. It's a combo of two delicious classics. How unique and delicious!
Cookin' Canuck said…
What a great idea to use all of these paella seasonings with orzo. Sounds great!
Huggingthecoast is an excellent food blog of Doug! Mac and cheese more paella is a wonderful combination – yum!

Nice to see the new comment system installed for newer posts, hope everything will be ok :)

Have a great week,

Oh my word, that looks amazing!!!! :) Real comfort food. :) I think I actually like your alterations better than the original recipe.

Thanks so much for stopping by the party. I'd love it if you have a chance to link up...I'm leaving the link open until late tonight. :) Have a great day!
Pam said…
Wow! That looks really good and filling..yum!!

Nicely done!

Stephanie said…
That looks really interesting. I think that the recipe has a lot of options for switching it up!
Janice said…
This looks very delicious, love mac and cheese twist to this paella
Cajun Chef Ryan said…
A great way to serve up some seafood delights.

Joanne said…
I would never have thought to mix mac and cheese with paella but it sounds and looks delicious!
Mother Rimmy said…
This is definitely a husband pleasing meal. Mine will love it!
AngelBaby said…
This looks so yummy, I am going to have to make this one. I would be will to bet that it is just delightful. Thanks for sharing this.

Have a wonderful day!

Love and Blessings,
JBs Cookinglady said…
This is a great recipe of course anything with seafood is always good. LOL
Shelly said…
I may try this for one of our girls nights. No one in my house would eat it except me but the girls will LOVE it.
Kim said…
This looks so yummy! I love scallops. It's my favorite seafood. I thought it was rice when I first looked at the picture. Then I realized it was orzo....even better. :)

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