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San Luis Obispo – Eat it Up!

San Luis Obispo was in the spotlight this afternoon, as today’s episode of Oprah took place there. Hosted by Jenny McCarthy, the show, which spoke about happiness, took place in San Luis Obispo because of its National Geographic designation as one of the happiest places in the world. There does seem to be a large number of celebrations and events going on in San Luis Obispo County year-round, much of it revolving around food and wine – from wine tours and winery events to farmers’ markets, food festivals and outdoor fairs.

Coming up this weekend is the annual Cambria Art & Wine Festival, and the following weekend you’ll find the Culinary Festival. Check out the full San Luis Obispo 2011 event calendar here. I came across this recipe for Jambalaya by Breakaway Tours – one of the local companies who does much of the planning and coordinating of public and private wine tours and other events in San Luis Obispo county. Jambalaya is a great dish to serve at parties – speaking of encouraging happy lives – as it’s easy to make in large batches and serve out of a large pot, family-style, in the middle of the table or on a buffet. Most jambalaya is made with chicken, sausage and shrimp – use brown rice instead of white if you want to boost fiber and nutrients, but expect it to take closer to 40 minutes to cook. Breakaway Tours suggests serving it with Garretson Wine Company’s 2005 The Ceilidh Rosé, Paso Robles.

Jambalaya

Adapted from Breakaway Tours & Event Planning

1/2-1 lb. smoked sausage, such as andouille, sliced into rounds
1 large red, yellow or orange pepper, sliced or diced
2 celery stalks, chopped (leaves too!)
4 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
3 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or a few drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1 lb. shrimp, raw, tail-on
juice of half a lemon

In a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, saute the sausage until lightly browned; set aside. Add the red pepper to pan and saute 2 minutes. Add the celery, green onions, parsley, garlic, and thyme and cook another 3 minutes. Add the rice and chicken and stir well; reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and cayenne. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Stir in the shrimp and lemon juice and cook until the shrimp are just cooked through, another 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with extra lemon wedges, if you like. Serves 6-8.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/adlifemarketing

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