Thursday, January 12, 2006

~January Cooking With Washington Wines~

Okay. First of all I have to tell you that this salad recipe has Rice-A-Roni in it. I know - - I know. You are probably rolling your eyes right now. My mind's eye rolled when I first heard about it. The legendary San Francisco treat that is made in Illinois. Then I read about this recipe in a cookbook I was given for Christmas and it finally intrigued me.

The recipe book was "Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style," She's the star of Paula's Home Cooking on the Food Network. I was delighted to get this gift as I love Paula Deen! She's everybody's favorite cousin or aunt. Her Liz Taylor face is always smiling and you often see Paula rubbing her Willendorf goddess belly after a bite of her cooking. While some critics think that Paula has never cooked a fresh vegetable in her life, I don't care. I love her just the same. She's a Southern belle from Savannah, Ga., who is honest and true to her roots of home cooking, and I happen to love her for it. There is no pretense.

Anyway, I could hardly wait to open the book and start cooking. And there it was! The salad made from Rice-A-Roni. I gave in and made it. Damn it was delicious! Next time I prepare it I think I will add crab (this recipe can also be found on the Food Network and can be printed out in recipe card size).
Artichoke Rice Salad

1 (6.9-ounce) package Rice-A-Roni, chicken flavor
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
3 to 4 green onions, chopped, white and green parts
12 to 14 pimiento-stuffed green olives, sliced
1 teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper
1 pound uncooked small OR medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (See NOTE:)

In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, brown Rice-A-Roni. Continue preparing rice according to package directions, but omitting the butter or oil. Drain artichoke hearts and reserve marinade. In a small bowl, whisk marinade and mayonnaise to combine. Mix in green pepper, green onions, olives, curry powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add this mixture to rice. Gently stir in cooked shrimp. If serving as a salad, chill. If serving as a casserole, place in a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 20 minutes, until heated through. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

NOTE: If serving as a cold salad, cook shrimp in a small amount of salted water for about 3 to 4 minutes, until firm and cooked through. If serving as a hot casserole, plunge shrimp into boiling water 2 to 3 minutes and drain, as they will continue cooking during baking.

This salad calls for wine. Sauvignon Blanc would pair perfect with the artichokes and curry. Waterbrook 2004 Columbia Valley Sauvignon Blanc has a sweet herbal, yet clean nose. This smooth seafood pairing wine has a lot of citrus fruit going on. Very suitable for this recipe and an excellent price at $12.00.

Speaking of Sauvignon Blanc. Rumor is that Jill Noble of the new to be opened winery, "Couvillion", is going to have a great Sauvignon Blanc available for sale. Can hardly wait to try it.

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