Monday, April 2, 2012

Creamy Shrimp and Rice Salad - creative leftovers

     I was up early with Baby Girl this morning, and I had every intention of cooking up the chickens and fish I bought on sale a couple days ago (see my next post: "On Sale - 2 Birds In The Oven Are Better Than 1"). But, when I opened the fridge the first thing I saw was the shrimp that I had cooked (and we used for some delicious shrimp tacos), but that I still had left over. No one was eating them as is, so I got creative and made a shrimp and rice salad. (Paula Dean has a similar recipe - I love Paula Dean!)
      As with most of my recipes, the measurements aren't exact and please feel free to add/subtract whatever you would like. :)
      Here's what you'll need: (I'm not endorsing any specific brands. Just use what you have or like. This is just what I have.)
Plain Non-fat Greek Yogurt (you can omit this if you don't mind all the fat and calories of using all mayo), Mayonaise, *Italian dressing, *fresh ground black pepper, a boxed rice mix (any flavor), cooked shrimp,  onion, celery, carrot, pepper (I used a Paseo pepper, but any bell pepper would work too.),
  *not pictured

  Get the rice going according to the package instructions:
And start chopping! This is what takes the longest.

I started with the onion. I had 1/2 a medium brown onion in the fridge already, so that's what I used. Then I went on to the celery. You want all your veggies about the same size. To dice the celery, I start at one end and drag my knife down to the opposite end, to make about 1/4 inch strips.
 Then I gather all the strips together and dice them all at once.
Next is the pepper. I cut all my large peppers (Paseo, Pablano, Bell, etc) the same. I hold the stem and put the point of the pepper on the board. Then I cut the "cheeks" (that's just a nifty way to say sides) off.

 When all the "cheeks" are cut off, you'll be left with the stem and all the seeds attatched. :)
Then just cut them into strips like the celery and dice.

I remembered hearing once that it's easier to cut a pepper from the inside out, so here's a picture of that way also. (It's much prettier too, since my cutting board is dark green.)
Next comes the carrot. I shred this on my box grater, because shredding carrots is so much easier that trying to dice them nice and small. - It does make a bit of a mess though. Good thing I have plenty of tiny hands around to help me pick up the stray carrot shreds. :)

 When you have about an inch of carrot left, please STOP grating! I don't want you to cut your fingers.
 Now you have most of the veggies chopped. You want about equal amounts of each.
 All of the celery, and about 1 Tablespoon of the onion get set aside with the shrimp. This way there will be some textural contrast in the salad.
The peppers, carrots and remaining onions go in with the mostly cooked rice now. Stir the veggies in with the rice and put the lid back on. (This is just my personal preference. I don't care for the texture/flavor of raw onions; and I didn't want the raw pepper taste to over power the other flavors in the salad.  If you like everything raw and crunchy then by all means leave them that way and continue on to the cucumber.) 

 To dice the cucumber, I start by taking both ends off and then take a sliver off one side (this helps stabilize the cucumber, so it doesn't roll away when your cutting and you accidentally cut your self - I'm all about protecting those fingers!).
 Then just roll the cucumber onto the now flat side and cut into planks.
Cut the planks into strips and dice like the previous veggies. 

Now it's time to start the dressing.

 I was going to add 1/3 cup greek yogurt, but I only had a little bit left in my container, so I added it all. :)

 Then 3 Tablespoons mayo.
And 1/2 cup Italian dressing.
(I had 2 bottles open and only a small amount of one, so I combined both to get 1/2 cup. That's why it's multi-colored.)
 Mix well. Add raw veggies (cucumber, celery and reserved onion) and shrimp. Then add the cooked rice and par-cooked veggies.

 Stir to combine and add black pepper to taste. You can eat it warm right now, room temperature later or put it in the fridge and have it cold. (You could even omit the cucumber, or replace it with some mushrooms, peas, artichoke hearts, or spiniach - or really any veggie your heart desires - and put the salad in a casserole dish. Top it with cheese and/or bread crumbs and bake @ 350 for 20-25 minutes for a hot meal.)
It makes 6 cups - for our family, that's just enough for an after school snack for me and the kids and hubby's lunch for work tomorrow. - If you had more shrimp and/or veggies it would easily make more. :)

Here's the recipe:

Shrimp and Rice Salad

Shrimp (1/2 - 3/4 pound), cooked (a little over a cup)
1 box rice mix, prepared
1/2 onion, diced (about a cup)
1 rib of celery diced (about a cup)
1 large carrot shredded (about a cup)
1 Paseo Pepper, diced (about a cup)
1 small cucumber, diced (about a cup)
1/3 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons mayonaise
1/2 cup Italian dressing
fresh ground black pepper

   Combine yogurt, mayonaise and salad dressing in a large bowl. Stir in chopped veggies (some veggies may be added to rice while cooking), shrimp and cooked rice. Season with black pepper to taste.

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