I was trying to use up some shrimp that I had purchased for a holiday party that was cancelled due to extreme snowfall, and I found a recipe for Shrimp and Mushroom Linguini with Creamy Cheese Herb Sauce. I made this with a few substitutions as I was trying to keep myself out of the store for the Pantry Challenge. I used whole wheat spaghetti instead of linguine, and I had some goat cheese from a get-together with friends that I used in place of the cream cheese. I had a pound of raw shrimp that I defrosted and cooked up quickly before combining everything together.
The Verdict? Excellent! Even the kids ate it and they aren't familiar with shrimp (I think my kids would eat anything if I served it with spaghetti or soba noodles!) We had no leftovers after my husband packed the rest for lunch. I will keep this recipe on hand for special occasions, but since we don't usually eat shrimp, I don't think it will go in our regular rotation.
A friend of mine keeps a binder of all the recipes from newspapers and magazines that she is interested in trying out. That's how I discovered Coconut Barley Pilaf, an intriguing way to use up some barley that I had on hand. (Confession: I had planned to make Mushroom Barley Soup with the barley for lunches, but I just couldn't get excited about it, especially knowing that I'd be the only one eating it. So, I didn't make it. The mushrooms found a new home in the shrimp dish above as well as with a lovely omlette made Julia Child-style.)
We are this meal last night and it was fantastic! (I thought so anyway, the kids thought it was 'wierd rice'.) It was sticky and creamy with great texture from the barley, corn, and crunchy nuts. There are so many reasons I like this recipe:
- It uses only 10 oz of chicken for 4 servings, which makes the dish more affordable to make. You only need 1/2 cup of cashews, which you could replace with peanuts if you didn't have cashews available.
- You can use pre-cooked chicken; I had a batch from my freezer cooking day all measured out.
- If you omitted the chicken completely, this could be a vegan dish.
- I like that this dish uses barley to increase my family's exposure to whole grains other than wheat, but you could also easily make this dish with more standard fare such as brown rice.
- I ended up adding 2 cups of water in addition to the coconut milk/water mixture mentioned in step 3. I simmered the barley mixture for 35 minutes before adding the corn, and added the chicken and cashews at 40 minutes, stirring to heat them up; it didn't take an extra 10-15 minute as stated. Be sure to monitor the liquid content carefully and add more if the barley needs to cook longer.
- I thought the recipe called for a lot of salt. I used lightly salted cashews and added less salt than called for.
- Also be careful with the cashews; they brown really fast!