CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Sunday Shrimp Pasta Bake

You can never have too many fish or seafood recipes when Lent rolls around. After all, a person can eat only so much tuna casserole, fish sticks and salmon loaf.

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as the Internet, so Mom couldn’t hop on a computer (a what?) and look for interesting meatless recipes to serve her crew on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays leading up to Easter Sunday.

About the most exotic entrees we could expect were the aforementioned trio of dishes, all of which most kids I knew got really tired of by the time 40 days of fasting and abstinence came to an end.

Here’s a recipe that I wished Mom had back in the day. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since the first time I made it. Several of my former co-workers also loved it.

And it certainly would have been a dish that my brothers and I would have been begging for it every Friday during Lent.

Sunday Shrimp Pasta Bake
12 ounces uncooked vermicelli
1 medium green pepper, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons butter, cubed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 pounds deveined peeled cooked medium shrimp
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound process cheese (Velveeta), cubed
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
1 4-ounce can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Cook vermicelli according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the green pepper, onions and garlic in butter until tender. Gradually stir in flour until blended. Stir in the shrimp, celery salt and pepper; cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until heated through.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the process cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted, stirring occasionally. Add to shrimp mixture. Drain vermicelli; stir into skillet.
Pour into a greased 13-inch-by-9-inch-by-2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
Yield: Serves 8.
Source: Taste of Home magazine.

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