The start of Mardi Gras. . .Fat Tuesday. . .Paczki Day. . .a rose is still a rose by any name. I’ve never been to New Orleans ~ yet. It looks like so much fun though so it’s on my list of things to do. In honor of Mardi Gras, today I’m making a weekday version of Jambalaya – a spicy sausage, shrimp and rice dish I’m calling Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice. Jambalaya often includes chicken and some vegetables too. The dish is lightened up a bit because I’m not using sausage and if shrimp doesn’t make your sails fly, feel free to just use chicken. In other words, this is a very loose interpretation ~ but delicious nonetheless. Maybe when I get the New Orleans one day I’ll rethink the whole interpretation/weekday version, but in the meantime. . .

Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice

I’m also using a 90 second rice ~ I love this stuff and can’t help but think if someone was able to make rice cook this quickly can rock hard abs without exercising be far behind? Hmmmm. . .food for thought (no pun intended). The reason for the 90 second rice in this recipe is so that anyone can enjoy this dish literally any night of the week, no matter their schedule and in my humble opinion, we all need meals like that sometimes.

Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice

Paczki Day is kind of a national holiday in our house. If you’re not familiar with Paczki (I think Paczki is both singular and plural but feel free to correct me), they’re a very decadent delicacy we eat just once a year. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re nothing more than a jelly filled, deep fried donut — they’re so much more and steeped in tradition in our neck of the woods. Long lines of Paczki-Lovers form early in the morning outside of Polish bakeries just waiting for them. That’s not to say they’re savored; eaten slowly ~ nope, they pretty much disappear almost on contact. My favorite way to enjoy them is with a very large cup of coffee. I typically cut mine in half, telling myself I’ll only eat half. . .it never works.

But back to Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice. . .I get so easily distracted!

cajun 1

Season the shrimp. . .

In a large ziplock bag or bowl, add TWO tablespoons of Cajun seasoning (reserving ONE TABLESPOON of the Cajun seasoning for later) along  with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Smoosh it around until it’s all combined then add the raw shrimp, moving around until they’re all seasoned. Refrigerate them for now. I figure 8-10 shrimp per person. Note: if you’re mixing your own Cajun seasoning, do it in a small bowl or cup and reserve one tablespoon for later use.

Let’s get saucy. . .

cajun 2

In a large skillet, heat the butter and a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and zucchini and sauté 3-4 minutes. Grate in the garlic and keep cooking another minute. The garlic will start wafting up at that point.

cajun 3

Move the vegetables to the parameter of the skillet, add a tad more olive oil and drop in the shrimp in a single layer. Cook them about 2-3 minutes per side.

cajun 4

Stir the shrimp and veggies together, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, honey and the tablespoon of Cajun seasoning you set aside. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered about 5-7 minutes.

Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice
 Meanwhile micro the rice according to the package directions.

Mardi Gras Shrimp and Rice
Add the cilantro to the shrimp, veggies and sauce and serve with a generous ladle over the rice.

[yumprint-recipe id=’79’] 

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