A jambalaya can be made with pretty much anything -- I prefer sausage and shrimp. But what really holds it together is the rice and spice. Zatarain's makes one of the most flavorful rice mixes on the planet. Packed with chili powder, paprika, and other seasonings, it makes it unnecessary to add anything else to the pot. I won't cook this dish without it. -- Kate Merker, Associate Food Editor, Real Simple
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Like the soups and stews that see you through the winter, jambalaya is a flexible dish, ready to accommodate the ingredients you have on hand (even if those include alligator fillets). But it's got more fiery freshness than most cold-weather staples, and this version is quicker to make. With a handful of shrimp, tangy kielbasa, rice, and a can of tomatoes, you'll have dinner done in less time than it takes to dig out your Wynton Marsalis CDs.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 16-ounce package kielbasa, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 8-ounce box jambalaya, Spanish, or fiesta-flavored rice mix
1 1-pound package peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
Step 1: Brown
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the kielbasa and cook until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes.