Cajun Shrimp and Rice Casserole
At first glance you probably wouldn’t go straight to the word “healthy” when describing this pot of warm, spicy goodness but believe it or not, it could be a good, healthy choice. In the entire pot the only really bad thing would be the 6 tablespoons of butter but this is a big pot! Also, there is the white rice which I know isn’t the best of the carb family but what an easy exchange to use to brown rice instead to boost the health quality? Cayenne pepper is full of health benefits. One I’m particularly interested in is the anti-viral qualities since we all know it’s cold and flu season. Cayenne is also a detox supporter for all you doing a cleanse. This Cajun Shrimp and Rice Casserole is loaded with anti-oxidant rich bell peppers and high protein shrimp so that little bit of butter is offset by these super stars. If it bothers you, use olive oil for a good dose of beneficial healthy fat. I did add some cheese but the original recipe just had a little dusting of parmesan on top. That part is up to you!
I’m taking a quick break from the salted caramel craze, at least as far as I’m letting on to you guys. I know this is the worst time of year to do a series of sorts on something so decadent but we’ll need these recipes at some point so they’re here when you’re ready!
Most people this time of year are thinking about shedding those few pounds that appeared due to the holiday celebrations. Some of you have new goals or new year’s resolutions. Some are doing a health cleanse and some are probably just sick of the heavy diet that seems to be the norm the last two months of every year. Usually I’m right there with you but not this year. I’ll get there though. In my own timing, right? That’s the only way it’ll work anyway.
No matter what you’re concentrating on, this recipe should fit into most meal plans and it’s really simple. It could be a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch or a quick weeknight meal. If there’s something you’re making that calls for rice during the week, go ahead and double it and you’re halfway there when you get ready to make this Cajun Shrimp and Rice Casserole. If you didn’t want to use the parmesan as a topping, panko (Japanese bread crumbs) would be a perfect substitute.
Let’s talk about what’s important to remember about this recipe. I talk about this any time I make a recipe that has shrimp in it. It is so important to know how to properly boil shrimp. I don’t mean to harp on it but so many people overcook shrimp. It gets tough and chewy and is almost impossible to peel. I go over it in my shrimp boil recipe and also again recently in my shrimp and avocado summer roll recipe so if you aren’t completely positive how to boil shrimp, take a look at those posts to make sure. It only takes minutes…really.
You only need to rough chop the bell pepper. The smaller the size of your vegetables, the more they’ll cook down and you’ll want them to stay somewhat present and not disappear. If you don’t have all the colors of bell pepper like I used, don’t sweat it. You can use any color you like. Just keep in mind the yellow, orange and red have more anti-oxidants than the green. I just like the way it looks to have the confetti colors of the veggies.
I also used garlic (I don’t think there’s a savory Cajun recipe without it) and mushrooms. They will cook down a bit, too so make sure to rough chop those and don’t get them too tiny.
This recipe has okra in it. I know some people have a strong opinion about okra. If you don’t like, leave it out. No biggie. Same with the wine. There’s not much but if you don’t have it or would rather skip it, just use water. For the cream of shrimp soup, you can always substitute cream of whatever-you-want soup instead and they make so many low and fat free options as well. There are so many flavors in this soup, you’ll never notice a bit of low fat soup. I don’t notice when cooking with it at all.
I always cook my rice and anything else that’s boiled in some sort of stock. Chicken, beef or vegetable usually. It really amps up the flavor.
It’s also not bad at all re-heated as I ate it for lunch the following day!
Let’s get down to the recipe, shall we? I hope you enjoy it. We really did! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living.
- 2 pounds shrimp, peeled (I used medium shrimp)
- 3 cups cooked long-grain rice (one uncooked makes 3 cooked cups-I used extra long-grain Jasmine rice)
- 2 cups stock of your choice (I used homemade chicken stock
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups bell pepper, roughly diced (colors of your choice)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups fresh or frozen okra, sliced
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of shrimp soup (or any cream of soup of your choice)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (water may be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper
- 1 (8 ounce) package mushrooms of your choice, sliced
- 1 cup white cheddar, grated (optional)
- 1/2 cup parmesan, grated
- Cook rice according to package directions omitting water for 2 cups of stock.
- Sauté onion and bell pepper in butter until wilted, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and mushrooms and cook another 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in okra, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook for approximately 3 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Do not overcook.
- Add soup, wine and soy sauce along with rice and stir until blended completely.
- Stir in white cheddar.
- Pour into a greased casserole dish (I used a 9 inch deep but I think it will fit in a regular 9x13. 11x7 will also work)
- Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and casserole bubbles on the side.
What’s your favorite comfort food casserole?