Monday, September 30, 2013

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

Casseroles tend to be great weeknight dishes.  I love that many of them call for throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl, placing in a casserole dish, and then spreading on some yummy topping like cheese or crunchy breadcrumbs.  They also tend to be great dishes to make when you’re preparing for arrival of a new baby.  I’m in the process of testing out many casserole recipes in planning for having a bunch of meals prepared and frozen for when our little bundle of joy arrives :)  After all, I won’t have much time for cooking! 

This dish was inspired by a Paula Deen recipe.  However, I made significant modifications so that it was more of a “one-pot” meal.  I added veggies, reduced the butter, and added a few more spices that she didn’t use.  Adding celery and broccoli gave the casserole a little more substance so it’s less creamy and "one-noted" and all of the distinct flavors come out.  Can’t wait for you to try it!

Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole

1 (8oz) package wild rice
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
½ green bell pepper, seeded & chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 lb large shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tsp minced garlic
1 (10 ¾ oz can) condensed cream of mushroom soup
2c grated sharp or medium cheddar
2c small broccoli florets
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp ground thyme
salt & pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325F.

Cook the rice according to package directions minus 1/4 c water.  Fluff with a fork and cool.  Note: This prevents the rice from overcooking when baking in the oven.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat.  Add butter and olive oil. 

Heat the butter in saucepan and sauté the peppers, onions, and celery until sweating (about 1-2 mins).  Add shrimp.  Add garlic.  Sauté shrimp until just pink on each side.

Cooking lesson: A mirepoix (pronounced “meer-pwa”) is a set of 3 vegetables that are typically used as aromatics in cooking.  Mirepoix is a French term and consists of celery, carrots, and onion.  However, other variations for other cuisines have come on the scene.   The mirepoix often used in Cajun or Creole cooking includes onion, celery, and bell pepper – which is what I used in this recipe.  This combination is also known as the holy trinity.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, soup, 1 ½ c cheese, shrimp mixture, and broccoli.  Add crushed red pepper and thyme.  Add salt & pepper, to taste.  Mix well.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.  Place the mixture in the pan and top with remaining ½ c cheese.  Bake for 30 mins, or until bubbly.

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