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Faux seafood perks up Spanish rice variation

Thursday, February 21, 2002

By Betsy Kline, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Even empty-nesters who like to eat look forward to meals that get them out of the kitchen and to the table quickly. The better to share each other's company.


Today's Countdown recipe is a Spanish rice variation with mock seafood. If you've never tried these tasty seafood substitutes, you're in for a pleasant surprise.

Fran Greenstine of Upper St. Clair improvised this recipe for Arroz Espanol from pantry staples, such as rice, canned beans and pasta sauce. We'll attest that it's tasty and filling.

Fran and her husband, Robert, both work. Fran has been a learning support aide at Lincoln Elementary in Mt. Lebanon for 18 years; Robert is an engineer at Bettis in West Mifflin. They have three grown children and four grandchildren.

Fran, who says she enjoys the challenge of grocery shopping, likes to "mix and match in the kitchen sometimes." Robert is an appreciative audience for her efforts, she says. "He just loves coming home to a hot meal."

They're both watching their weight, so Fran scans the newspaper, the Internet, Food TV and cookbooks for recipes that suit their lifestyle, making modifications as she goes. As an example, she might combine boneless pork with a can of La Choy, adding more vegetables or meat.

Five things you'll always find in her pantry: canned spaghetti sauce, tuna, brownie mixes ("we still like our sweets"), soups to augment her recipes, and pastas, including the whole-wheat variety.

Fran would suggest serving this Spanish rice with corn muffins and coleslaw, or a spinach-orange salad with breadsticks.

Arroz Espanol

1 (8-ounce) package Louis Kemp "faux" lobster or crab flakes
2 cups Instant brown rice, see tester's note
1 (28-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (Fran uses Ragu; we used a 14-ounce jar and it seemed just right)
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 can drained black beans

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Add lobster, sauce, salsa and beans and reheat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Tester's note: We already had Uncle Ben's instant-style brown rice in the cupboard, so we cooked 2 cups of that to yield roughly 3 cups of cooked rice. It takes 12 minutes, but we still finished well under 30 minutes.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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