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Traditional Southern Sides Any Chicago Foodie Will Love


You don’t need to dine out to heat things up this weekend.


Chicago is a kind of haven for food lovers. People laud the restaurant scenes in New York, in San Francisco, in Philadelphia–and rightly so–but there’s something special about Chicago eats.

You could easily go on a food voyage without ever leaving the city limits, exploring the flavors of the Middle East in Edgewater, Southeast Asia in Uptown, South America on the West Side, late-night soul food at Kingston Mines, and, of course, the best burn-your-taste-buds-off Chinese food in Chinatown.

Unfortunately, to all of our chagrin, embarking on daily food adventures to restaurants around the city isn’t the most sustainable way to live. Especially if you’re feeding more than just yourself. But does that mean the food adventure has to wait until the weekend, or (god forbid) end entirely?

Absolutely not.

With the right ingredients, you can bring the adventure into your own kitchen. Try the four recipes below, inspired by some of the best restaurants in our city, and you’ll be digging into a hearty, flavor-filled feast in no time.

Crab and Oyster Dressing

Anyone looking for fresh seafood and an upscale, jazz-filled ambiance knows about Shaw’s. But we can’t afford to eat there every night (or every month for that matter). This New Orleans classic brings the flavors of one of Chicago’s fine dining establishments to your doorstep. Made with fresh oysters, lump crabmeat, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers and Zatarain’s Long Grain and Wild Rice, it’s simple to cook and only takes 35 minutes to put together. Zatarain’s Long Grain and Wild Rice mix is gluten-free, too, making it easy to please even the pickiest eaters around your dinner table.

rice pilaf

Rice Pilaf

For nights when you can’t get a table at Sayat Nova. This show-stopping dish only requires six ingredients, so you can easily whip it up after a long day at the office. Cumin, cilantro and chili powder come together for a burst of flavor, which blended with Zatarain’s Rice Pilaf mix makes for a filling and flavorful, bold combination.

Spanish Rice

A flavor-packed side dish that’s ready in minutes–yes, it does exist. This side is an excellent accompaniment to steak, chicken and all kinds of southern entrees, so it’s a versatile base for the staff at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! Zatarain’s has its own simple twist to this eclectic dish: simply combine diced tomatoes with Zatarain’s Spanish Rice mix and fluff with a fork before serving.

shrimp jambalaya

Crescent City Jambalaya

Who said Mardi Gras was only celebrated in Louisiana? From Heaven On Seven to House of Blues, there’s no shortage of great jambalaya in this city. You can bring this festive staple to life in your Chicago kitchen with shrimp, Andouille sausage, onions, tomatoes, green and yellow bell peppers and Zatarain’s Jambalaya Mix. For a satisfying twist that doesn’t compromise on flavor, choose a lean sausage or substitute chicken thighs.

There’s no reason you can’t add a little spice–quite literally–to dinner time at home. And remember: while it’s important to treat yourself to a night on the town enjoying all the incredible food Chicago has to offer, with the right stuff in your cupboard, you have all of the tools you need to whip up a food adventure all your own.

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