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30-Minute Shrimp and Saffon Rice with Fennel Salad

Shrimp & Saffon Rice with Fennel Salad

This dish was inspired by the cover of the September 2010 issue of Food & Wine.  I remember reading the magazine last August on the train up to Hyde Park and getting so hungry that I decided I had make the cover recipe that night. I bought the ingredients at the Grand Central Market as soon as we got off the train–shrimp, arugula mix, fennel, scallions, and saffron (the rest I had at home)–and rushed home to cook.

As it turned out, I sort of ignored the recipe. Written by a chef (Joshua Hopkins of Abattoir, in Atlanta), the original recipe had some rather involved steps (like making shrimp stock) that in my hungry daze I wasn’t up for tackling.  And there was no way I could wait an hour and 15 minutes to eat!  But I love shrimp, and I especially loved the idea of pairing them with creamy saffron rice and a light, summery salad.  So I decided to challenge myself: to make the meal (with a few little shortcuts!) in 30 minutes or less.

Shaving time off was easier than you might think: I bought the shrimp already cleaned (which saved a ton of time), skipped the homemade shrimp stock, sauteed the shrimp in my usual combo of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and thyme (instead of poaching), and finished cooking the parboiled rice in saffron, half-and-half (instead of cream), and chicken stock.  The salad took just minutes to make–after thinly slicing the fennel and scallions, I tossed them with a bit of arugula and frisee, lemon juice, and olive oil. And as an added heart-healthy bonus, I didn’t use any butter at all. 

With apologies to Chef Hopkins for taking a few shortcuts, I must say the meal turned out to be delicious. I will definitely make this combination again and again…though probably the 30-minute way. (And if I’m ever in Atlanta, I’ll make sure to pay my respects at Abattoir!)

30-MINUTE SHRIMP AND SAFFRON RICE WITH FENNEL SALAD

Serves 4

Saffron Rice
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup half-and-half
Pinch of crumbled saffron threads
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil.  Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes or until al dente. Strain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the half-and-half with the saffron and chicken broth and bring to a simmer.  Add the al dente rice and stir over medium heat until the rice becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Shrimp
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (with tails left on)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is just beginning to brown.  Add the shrimp and thyme and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are pink and beginning to curl, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and let simmer until it has nearly evaporated, another 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Fennel Salad
1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
2 cups arugula, frisee, or mesclun blend
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Toss the fennel and arugula with the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper.

To serve: Mound some rice in the center of each plate.  Arrange 4 shrimp on top and some fennel salad on the side.  Garnish with the sliced scallion.



My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.

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