Monday, September 17, 2012

Cleaned-Up (Vegetarian) Dirty Rice

Here's a little something for you, for Meatless Monday. Be sure to check out the Meatless Monday website if you haven't already heard about this movement.

I got the latest special issue of Cooking Light recently, called Dinner Tonight! (Yes, there's an exclamation point in the title.) And dinner the other night was Cooking Light all the way, except that I made slight modifications to, I think, yes, all the recipes: blackened chicken, dirty rice, and salad.

My husband kept asking me, "What is dirty rice anyway?" Well, I've always thought of it as a leftover rice dish rice, dirtied up with Cajun seasonings, onion, celery, and bell pepper. But I googled it, and Wikipedia explains: "Dirty rice is a traditional Cajun dish made from white rice cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, which give it a dark ('dirty') color and a mild but distinctive flavor. Similar to a pilaf, it also includes green bell pepper, celery and onion...."

So, I didn't exactly make dirty rice, because in addition to using a mixture of leftover brown and wild rice, instead of white rice, I also omitted what turns out be the defining ingredient of dirty rice: the chicken livers. Another thing I did was to use smoked hot paprika (instead of standard paprika), which definitely added some heat and, of course, smokiness. Lastly, I kept the hot sauce on the side, thinking it would make the dish too spicy for the kids, but it was too much for them anyway. Maybe our dirty rice wasn't technically correct (shall we say it was clean dirty rice?), but it was flavorful and we really enjoyed it.

The chicken was quite good too, even though, mainly by accident, I altered that recipe a bit too and forgot to make the sauce at the end (we were hungry)!

The best of all, however, was the salad with lettuce, onion, avocado, and lime dressing. Again, accidentally, I altered the original recipe. But my only mistake was to use double the lime juice it called for nothing major and we really liked the limeyness (? liminess? limyness?). Anyway, we liked all the lime flavor especially good with the avocado and onion.

Following is the recipe for my cleaned-up version of dirty rice perfect for Meatless Monday. Watch for the salad recipe later this week.

Jen's (Vegetarian) Dirty Rice  PRINTABLE RECIPE

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 cups pre-cooked (leftover) rice (any kind - white or brown, with a little wild rice mixed in if you like)
2 tsp smoked hot paprika
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
kosher salt
hot pepper sauce (like Tobasco)
2 green onions - thinly sliced

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté about 4 minutes.

2. Add garlic, thyme, then rice, paprika, and crushed red pepper and stir together. Stir rice occasionally over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until rice is warmed through. Season with salt and hot pepper sauce to taste.

3. Keep rice over low heat until ready to serve. Stir in green onions just before serving.

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