Campfire Recipe: Southwestern Campfire Paella

We're excited to present this incredible recipe made just for us by Meg over at Root for Food. This classic recipe has a Southwest twist, which makes it perfect for your next meal around the campfire.

Last night I cooked out on the Weber grill in our Florida apartment courtyard. The smell of smoke and the beautiful glow of the coals made me long for the woods- for camping- for being around an actual campfire with family and friends and those I love. Campfire cooking has a special place in my heart. From a young age I remember camping along the Buffalo River- hiking the breathtaking trails during the day, roasting marshmallows at night, and always waking up to the smell of a hearty campfire breakfast. There is something about gathering around a campfire to "break bread" together. There is something magical and almost instinctual about it. It feels ritualistic. Maybe that's because it was the way of our ancestors. Whatever our heritage, campfires were a part of it. In a world where convenience and fast food is the norm, I believe gathering and having community around a campfire meal is good for the soul. It takes us back to our roots and forces us to slow down and pause in nature’s beauty. What a beautiful thing it is. 

This is why I chose a Southwestern spin off the classic Spanish dish- Paella, for Alamo Outdoor Co’s Field Notes blog. Paella is a classic campfire dish dating back to the early 1800s. During that time, it was a one-skillet meal, forged over open fires and served family style. 

It starts with sofrito, a flavorful base of chopped vegetables- traditionally garlic, tomatoes and onions. I have added jalapeño and bell pepper to this recipe. 

Once these flavors have melded together, you add the seasonings. Of course, I chose Mexican flavors to stay consistent with the Southwestern spin. 

Next comes the stock, rice, and any additional more dense vegetables- sweet potatoes in this case. At this point, and as traditional recipes insist upon, you leave it alone and uncovered to do it’s magic.

Once the rice is nearly cooked through- about 20-24 minutes- depending on the heat of your fire, add green peas- to lighten the flavor profile and also bring a welcome pop of color. At this point, I cracked a few eggs to appease my on-looker husband. It is optional and not technically traditional, but delicious nonetheless. 

Continue to cook until the rice and potatoes are cooked through, and any eggs reach desired consistency. 

Finally, garnish and ENJOY!                   

The following list will make this recipe even more campfire friendly:

  • Pre-measure the spices and put them together in a plastic baggy
  • Pre chop all of the vegetables and divided them in three separate containers as listed bellow: 

1. onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, garlic, and bell-pepper 

2. sweet potatoes 

3. green peas 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped 
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell-pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp chili powder (cayenne pepper)
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup short grain rice 
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cups diced sweet potato
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • lime wedges, 8 
  • avocado slices, from 2 avocados 
  • eggs, optional 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • oil, 3 tbsp 

METHOD

  • Prepare a medium campfire equipped with a grill. Heat 3 tbsp oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add garlic, jalapeños, onion, bell-pepper, tomato, and bay leaves. Sauté until soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. 
  • Add spices - paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin. Stir. Cook for an additional minute. 
  • Add rice, broth, and sweet potatoes. Season with 1 ½ tsp salt. Stir to combine and allow to cook- uncovered and untouched, until rice and potatoes are nearly cooked through. Note: Keep an eye on the skillet at this time. Because the skillet is uncovered, the liquid tends to evaporate pre-maturely. Add additional liquid (water or broth) as necessary. I had to add an additional cup and a half to prevent burning and continue the cooking process.  
  • Once the rice is almost cooked through, add green peas and cracked eggs on top (if desired). Continue to cook until rice and potatoes are done, and eggs are cooked to desired consistency. Remove from grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with lime wedges, avocado, and fresh cilantro. Season to taste.
  • Enjoy! 

MEET MEG

Meghan Dixon is a Texas girl living the dream with her husband, dog, and two rabbits in St. Petersburg, Florida.  She is a [whole] foodie, coffee addict, self proclaimed taco guru and wanna-be master chef.  Her cooking style stresses locally sourced, seasonal foods as these things bring greater nutritional value, environmental value, and help support local farmers and growers. A Registered Dietitian by trade, she has found her passion in providing people with healthy, delicious recipes and evidence-based nutritional guidance through her Instagram account and new blog, Root for Food.  Like all dietitians, she believes food truly is the strongest form of medicine. She wants to bridge the gap between the culinary world and medical professionals so that they are all of one mind- to promote health and wellness via whole foods and mindful eating.