Thursday, August 11, 2011

Shrimp and Orzo Pilaf

This dish has great contrast: crunchy almonds and crisp veggies combined with smooth orzo and tender vegan shrimp.  Keep up the summer feel to the menu with a side dish like Raspberry-Asparagus Medley

  • 4 cups vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1 pound uncooked orzo
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 24 ounces Vegetarian Plus shrimp, thawed
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato sprinkles*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted and sliced almonds, divided**
1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a Dutch oven; stir in the orzo.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat and cover; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the shrimp; saute for 2 minutes.  Add the carrot, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, sun-dried tomato sprinkles, salt, and black pepper; cook for a final 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the almonds.

3. Add the shrimp mixture to the orzo, and stir to combine.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup almonds.

Other great accompaniments to this pilaf are grilled fruit kebabs or a bowl of chilled soup - tonight I tried the acorn squash-mango soup from Imagine.

*The sun-dried tomato sprinkles were key to this dish, as per my review below, so do make the effort to find them.  Although you could chop sun-dried tomatoes (packed without oil) into small pieces, the actual crushed sprinkles are what you really need to get sun-dried tomato flavor in every bite.  I couldn't for the life of me find them in any grocery store, but you can buy them online at Olive Nation.

**Toast the almonds in a skillet over medium heat on the stovetop.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and toasty smelling.

Nutrition info:
8 servings (1 and 1/4 cups), Calories 381 

Tasting Notes:
A big pot of super comfort food.  As I mentioned in the intro to this post, the dish has great contrasting flavor and textures.  But the best part by far was the sun-dried tomato sprinkles, which infused every bite.  It was almost like eating a dish with a rich but invisible sun-dried tomato sauce - yum.  The only reason this dish doesn't get a "5" is because bell peppers aren't my favorite of veggies.  Next time I'd substitute something else in their place.


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