Brown rice isn’t my thing, but my daughter Lo (remember, she moved to La La Land) recently teamed up with Roxanne to add a healthier regimen to my Acadiana Table. Ok, so roasted pork belly, bacon-wrapped meat loaf, and boudin gravy need to be brought into balance with a few healthy choices; although I don’t like it, I get it.
Back to the rice: Like many dyed-in-the-wool Louisiana men, I am downright committed to long-grain white rice as a staple of my diet, and at this point in my life, I am hard pressed to change. That said, I have been very impressed with the Louisiana jasmine rice, that is a unique hybrid introduced by my favorite rice brand Supreme Rice from Crowley, Louisiana. These guys know rice better than anyone else, and when I ran across a bag of their brown rice on the supermarket shelf, I stopped dead in my tracks.
With a bit of research, I found out that brown rice is the same grain as white rice. Pure and simple, when only the outer husk of a grain of rice is removed, the result is brown rice. You must remove the next two layers underneath the husk to produce white rice. So, it’s those remaining side hulls and brans that are rich in proteins, thiamine, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. And for those (like me) that are trying to lose weight, brown rice is a healthful alternative given its low glycemic rating which reduces insulin spikes. And in my recipe, it just tastes good, too.
So, how can I construct a Cajun version of a rice bowl that doesn’t skimp on the flavor and spice of down home Louisiana ingredients that I’ve come to know and love? Starting with shredded iceberg lettuce and the Cajun trinity—onion, celery, and bell pepper—lays a tasty foundation. Roasting little cubes of Louisiana sweet potatoes in my flavorful Sweet Heat spice rub is a cinch. The spice-coated, roasted Louisiana pecans add crunch. And combining my brown rice with Cajun-seasoned griddled shrimp provides an over-the-top presentation. And just to top it all off, why not garnish with spicy ribbons of carrot and the herbal freshness of fresh-picked flat-leaf parsley from my garden?
Full of flavor and spice, this brown rice bowl puts a Louisiana spin on healthy eating that I could get used to.
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon. cayenne
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 cups diced sweet potatoes
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Acadiana Table Sweet Heat Seasoning Blend, see recipe
- 1 cup pecan halves
- Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 1 large carrot
- 8 jumbo (16/20 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-on
- ½ cup diced yellow onion
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- ½ cup diced celery
- 4 cups cooked brown rice
- ½ cup slivered green onion tops
- ½ cup shredded carrots
- 4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 2 small bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all spice ingredients together and place in an airtight jar.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
- In a mixing bowl, add the sweet potatoes along with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Turn to coat them evenly and sprinkle lightly with Sweet Heat seasoning. Place on a foil-lined baking tray, and roast in the oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Keep warm until serving.
- In a mixing bowl, add the pecans along with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Turn to coat them evenly and sprinkle lightly with Cajun seasoning. Place on a foil-lined baking tray, and roast in the oven until crunchy, about 10 minutes. Keep warm until serving.
- Wash the carrot and with a vegetable peeler, slice a long peel off one side and discard. Hold the carrot tightly with one hand and using the peeler, slice long lengthwise ribbons of carrot. Continue until the carrot is completely sliced. Toss the ribbons with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with Cajun seasoning.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle the shrimp with Cajun seasoning and add to the hot skillet and sauté just until the shrimp turn pink and are done, about 5 minutes. Remove and keep warm until later.
- In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons more of the olive oil along with the onion, bell peppers and celery. Cook until the peppers begin to brown and add the rice, green onion tops, and shredded carrots. Continue stirring to combine and warm through, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep warm.
- In the bottom of an individual (oversized) bowl, layer with shredded lettuce. Add a mound of the rice mixture to one side. Position 4 shrimp next to the rice, and mound the carrot ribbons along side. Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley and lay the pecans on top. Drizzle all ingredients lightly with olive oil, and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle salt and coarse black pepper over the dish. Serve immediately.
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