From Scratch, With Love

Archive for the ‘Seafood’ Category


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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.


Written by poperatzii

April 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

Something Fishy

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Allow me to begin by saying that I’m not a big seafood person.  I’ve only recently been able to eat seafood, and the seafood I will eat is very limited.  Honestly, the only reason I even want to learn to eat seafood is because I think it will make me a better cook – admirable right?  The sacrifices I make for my art.  I like squid, but only when its batter-fried.  I like shrimp.  And now I will eat salmon but I’m not quite at the point where I will get excited about it.

SO at some point in the last year, John decided he wanted to eat salmon and I said Okay, I’ll make it.  But I won’t eat it.  I looked in my dad’s cookbook and there’s a salmon recipe that he and my brother rave about so I made it and John LOVED it.  So I started making it every so often because even though I don’t eat it, it is very fun to make and tends to be a good accompaniment for pasta.

THEN, as I got more serious about running and a little less squeamish, I started reading more and more than salmon is a superfood for runners, so I tried a little the next time I made it.  It wasn’t bad.  I could handle it.  Now I can make it as a meal, have fun, eat some, and know that I’m doing good things for my body.  So here’s my salmon recipe.  I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do and enjoy eating it as much as John does.

Papa’s Seared Salmon (served 2)

Preheat the oven to 450.

Mince 2 cloves of garlic and thinly slice 2 green onions (or chop some white onion).  Set aside.

Line a broiling pan or other baking pan with foil and grease lightly with some olive oil.  Place 12 oz of your choice of salmon (I use farmed Atlantic salmon) on a plate.  Rub in, one at a time, dried or fresh dill, thyme, black pepper, the minced garlic, and green onion, in that order (from the finest to the coarsest, is the rule).  The amounts are to taste, but probably about a teaspoon of each herb and a few grinds of the pepper.

Next, heat a skillet over high heat.  Add about a tablespoon of olive oil and swirl it around so it’s evenly distributed throughout the pan.  Add the salmon, seasoned-side down (try to get as much of the green onions under the salmon as you can, even though it will tend to fall off when you flip it) and let it sear for about 3-4 minutes.  Once it has seared, and the salmon begins to turn white on the part closest to the pan, transfer to the broiling pan.  Drizzle with any remaining olive oil from the skillet and sprinkle with salt, to taste.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the center of the salmon is pale pink (as opposed to the deep pink you started out with.  Once you remove it from the oven, drizzle the juice from half a lemon on top.

Now, the salmon sort of demands a side dish, and I love making pasta using the same ingredients I used in the salmon sooooo…

Andrea’s Stir-Fried Pasta

Start water boiling for pasta.  I hope you know how much water you need to use for pasta, but if not, look on the box.  I usually stick to 2 oz of pasta per person for this side dish.

Thinly slice 2 green onions.  Mince 2 loves of garlic.  Cut 2 pints of cherry tomatoes in half.

In a large bowl, add 1 tsp dried or 1 Tbs fresh dill, 1 tsp thyme, a few grinds of black pepper, juice from half a lemon, and a pinch of salt.  Once the water starts boiling, add 4 oz of whole wheat pasta (that’s about 2 cups of shapes or 1/4 box of spaghetti).  Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil on a skillet and add the green onions and tomatoes.  After about a minute of stirring, add the garlic and about 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes.  Once the green onions start to soften and the mixture gives off a nice aroma (should only take a couple minutes), take the skillet off the heat (turn off the stove!) and add to the bowl that you’re prepared with herbs.  Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the bowl and give it a toss.  Done!  If you’ve timed everything correctly, the salmon should be ready by now too and you can sprinkle some parmesan cheese on the pasta and serve the delicious meal you’d just created (only took about a half hour, too!).

Written by poperatzii

June 12, 2010 at 11:45 am