You don’t need to be in New Orleans for parades on Feb. 13 to celebrate Mardi Gras Day. You can have a taste of Mardi Gras wherever you live with the signature dish of the season — authentic New Orleans jambalaya.

Known for its bold flavor and versatility, there’s no wrong way to make this crowd-pleaser. “Jambalaya is a one-pot meal that combines elements of our French, Spanish, African and Acadian heritage,” said New Orleans culinary authority and cookbook author Poppy Tooker.

“Every jambalaya starts with what is often called the ‘trinity’ of seasoning vegetables — celery, onion and bell pepper — and, of course, rice and signature spices. Where you go from there is really up to you! Add seafood, smoked sausage, chicken, or whatever you have on hand.”

Use your slow cooker for hands-off version of this New Orleans favorite using Zatarian’s original Jambalaya Mix with chicken and shrimp. Prepare a creamy twist on the dish for dipping chips, or turn it into a pasta dish.

These recipes are provided by Zatarain’s.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed

1 package (12 to 16 ounces) frozen peppers and onions blend

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 package (8 ounces) Zatarain’s original Jambalaya Mix

1 pound large shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined

Place chicken, vegetables and tomatoes in slow cooker. Stir until well blended. Cover. Cook 3 1/2 hours on HIGH or 7 1/2 hours on LOW. Stir in Rice Mix and shrimp. Cover. Cook 30 minutes longer on HIGH or until shrimp turn pink and rice is tender. Serves 8.

Skillet Jambalaya Dip

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon Zatarain’s Cajun Hot Sauce

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped

6 ounces cooked andouille sausage, finely chopped

1 tablespoon Zatarin’s Creole Seasoning

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Add shrimp, sausage and Creole Seasoning; cook and stir 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink.

Stir in cream cheese until melted and smooth. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Broil on the middle rack of oven with door ajar 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 40 servings.

Creamy Seafood Jambalaya Pasta

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

2 cups water

1 package Zatarain’s Jambalaya Pasta Dinner

1/2 cup heavy cream

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp; cook and stir 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove from skillet. Melt remaining butter in skillet. Add onion and bell pepper; cook and stir 2 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.

Stir in water and Pasta Dinner Mix. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in shrimp and cream; cook until heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir before serving. Serves 6.

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