Sunday, November 23, 2014

Healthy, Melty, Easy and Fast: Cajun Skrimpz Casserole with Quinoa

Sometimes I try out recipes thinking they're going to be fantastic and they fall flatter than an ass in mom jeans.

And other times, I try out a recipe and it's so good I want to make it again later that week.  Or I think about the leftovers I have for work and I drool on myself and then feel all embarrassed because I'm sitting in a pile of my own slobber.

This is one of those recipes.

It's spicy, cheesy, healthy, and full of succulent, juicy shrimp.

And it'll come together for you in less time than it takes to do a load of laundry.

My boyfriend is a southerner.  He likes meat with a side of meat, is testy when it comes to how to properly make a gumbo, snickers at me when I incorrectly pronounce "pecan", and loves things with a bit of a kick.

So when I stumbled across a recipe for a Cajun Shrimp Skillet dish, I got super excited to throw some spice my boyfriend's way.

Generally, when people think of Southern food, it's synonymous with battered, buttered, fried, and coated in sauce.

Sure this has enough cheese on it to choke the even most hearty Wisconsinite (cheese curds, FTW), but it's also made with a healthy helping of quinoa, fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, and protein-packed shrimp.
What's a quiin-o?

Cajun Skrimpz Skillet

3/4 pound large (26-30 count) raw shrimp,   peeled and de-veined
1/2 c. medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
4 medium tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
2 T. tomato paste
2 c. cooked quinoa
2 1/2 T. olive oil
2 T. Cajun spice blend (I used Tony Chachere's)
1 c. shredded Fontina cheese (if Fontina is difficult to find, or a bit on the pricey side, feel free to substitute mild provolone, Gruyere, or Gouda)
Chopped Cilantro (for garnish)

1. Heat oven to 350°.

2. Toss peeled and deveined, raw shrimp with 1/2 T. Cajun spice blend and set aside.

 3. Toss tomatoes with 1/2 T. olive oil and 2 tsp. Cajun spice blend and set aside.

4. Heat large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 T. of olive oil.  Add shrimp and cook until opaque, about 2 minutes each side.  When shrimp are done, remove from pan and set aside.
       Note: you want your shrimp to retain or form a "C" shape.  If your shrimp start forming an "O", you're overcooking them (Think "O" for Overcooked...).  Also, since you'll be popping this all into the oven, you can undercook your shrimp just a tad and be fine.

5. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining oil to pan.  Add onions, garlic and jalapeno and cook until the onions are translucent, and garlic and jalapeno begin to soften. Stir occasionally.

6. Add in tomatoes, quinoa, tomato paste, and remaining spice blend, stirring until thoroughly combined.

7. If you're using an oven-safe skillet, top the quinoa-mixture with your shrimp, sprinkle cheese on top and place in your preheated oven for 13 minutes.   If your skillet isn't oven safe, transfer the quinoa-mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish (mine was 9" in diameter), top evenly with the shrimp, sprinkle the cheese, and place in the oven.
8. During the last few minutes of baking, turn on your broiler and move the skillet/cassarole under your broiler.  Cook an additional 2-3 minutes until the cheese is nice and bubbly/melty.

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Top/garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Bam!  That's it!  It is amazingly easy and took less than an hour to throw together. It's easy, it's fast, and it'll make you happy as fuck.

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