Meals that make good leftovers are a windfall in my house. John loves hot lunches and I shudder at the idea of spending money on food while at work. Leftovers are the ultimate solution.
Along comes shrimp and vegetable pilaf. Pilaf, the way my dad makes it, is so delicious. It’s a combination of onions, butter, rosemary, and rice that creates an aroma that seeps into your clothes. My mouth waters just thinking about it. Of course, I can’t live off pilaf. At least, not in that form. So one day, I looked at the ingredients I had on hand and decided to make pilaf into a complete (healthy) meal… and to make enough for leftovers.
The great thing about this dish is that most of the ingredients are either shelf stable or freezer-friendly. It’s the kind of meal that you can put together quickly and just leave in the oven and watch West Wing while you wait. For those of you who are into “easy,” look no further. Also, it’s healthy. Lots of vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat. Can you ask for more?
Note that you can make this dish with white rice instead of brown rice, but the cooking time will have to be reduced. You might want to cook the shrimp separately and add it at the end.
Shrimp and Vegetable Pilaf (Serves 4-6)
Preheat the oven to 375.
Thinly slice 2 onions. Over medium heat, melt about a tablespoon of butter and saute the onions in a dutch oven or a large saute pan until soft. You want to use a pan that can hold about 2 quarts and is oven safe. If you don’t have one, have a casserole dish ready.
Once the onions are soft, add about a teaspoon each of rosemary and thyme. Use more if you have fresh herbs available. Add a few grinds of black pepper. Add 2 cups of brown rice, substituting some wild rice for the brown rice if you have it on hand. Stir the rice into the onions and after about a minute, add a quart of chicken stock. Stop stirring. Bring to a simmer and lightly salt. Cover with an oven-safe lid or aluminum foil and put in the oven. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel about a pound of shrimp. I like to use frozen shrimp because I can always have it on hand and I don’t have truly fresh shrimp available. I usually defrost it by putting it in a colander and running it under cold water for about 5 minutes.
Cut up a crown of broccoli or asparagus or whatever vegetable you like best and set aside.
After the rice has been in the oven for 30 minutes, remove the lid and scatter the vegetables on top. Most of the liquid should have already been absorbed. Put in the oven for 5 more minutes, then scatter the shrimp on top. Salt and pepper it and put it back in the oven for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, the shrimp should be pink and the dish should be aromatic. Let it cool for about 5 minutes, then use a big ole spoon to mix it all together. Eat.