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Shrimp & “Grits” A La Nik

Shrimp & Faux Grits
Now for those of you who are new, I’d like to let you in on an important piece of information (that you probably already know): when I put the name of food is “quotations,” it means it’s not really that food. So “rice” is not rice and, in this case, those “grits” are not grits. We all on the same page now? Lovely!
Over the summer, while the girls live with their dad, my boyfriend and I are culinary explorers. Here in the city of Baltimore there are ample opportunities for us to flex our wings, too. We have two events every year called “Restaurant Week” where fancy shmancy restaurants offer a special menu for a set price so that us gourmet-deprived masses may taste fine dining at least once in our lives (#sarcasm).
This year I really could only afford to do one restaurant during the week (which was the first week of August) and so I perused the Restaurant Week website to see what different places had on the menu and noticed a trend: grits are all the rage right now.
Now if you’ll indulge me a food memory, grits were a big part of my upbringing. We had them for breakfast countless times. My mom liked to crumble bacon over them and put the perfect amount of butter, salt and pepper. As an obese person, I added my own touch: a tablespoon of bacon drippings (along with the butter) and two fried eggs.
Nowadays, I’m thinking maybe I don’t want to have cardiac problems. I do eat grits sometimes but not in the quantity or the preparation that I used to. But still, it tickled me to see restaurants
reimagining what amounts to the U.S. version of “peasant food.” (Meaning that it’s what most of us eat and not what most gourmets have traditionally cooked, NOT that we are all peasants!)
Fast forward to last night, when I needed a quick and tasty dinner. It was the divas first day of school and I’d worked all day. Generally, I cook ahead but in prepping for school I didn’t get a chance to. This is when I start to look to my arsenal of 30-minute meal ideas. And I came back to that idea of dinner grits!
I’m going to give you two ways to do this. For those of you who eat grits in moderation, I will give you that method. For those who’d rather skip the grits (for whatever reason), I’ll give you “grits.” (See what I did there?)
Shrimp & Grits a la Nik
(Makes enough for three non-ops, one post-op with a post-op lunch portion left over!)
Ingredients:
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 non-green (yellow, red, orange – your choice!) pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ lb. shrimp, tails removed (I used frozen cooked ones but rinsed them to get them thawed enough to remove the tails)
  • 1 tomato (variety of your choice), diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste (or less if you want a more liquidy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning blend
  • 3 cups of spinach (or more, because I felt like it wasn’t enough)
  • A package of grits (quick or traditional, your choice – I’ll tell you what to do with it in the instructions)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Directions:

Spray a large skillet generously with non-stick cooking spray and set it over medium heat. Allow it to get HOT. Add onion and peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes, until slightly softened. Add garlic and stir. Add shrimp and tomato and stir again. If shrimp are frozen, semi-frozen or cold, sprinkle some salt over the entire thing (not a bunch, it’s mostly to draw the water out of the veggies) and cover the pan and allow the shrimp to cook about 5 minutes or so. If shrimp are already fully cooked/room temperature, proceed to the next step.

Add tomato paste and seasoning and stir through. Add the spinach to the top of the mixture, cover and drop the heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer about 10 minutes or so. Uncover and mix the cooked spinach into the rest of the sauce.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the appropriate portion of grits, according to the amounts on the package directions EXCEPT instead of water, use milk (the fat percentage is up to you. I don’t give the family grits often so I just use whole milk when I do) and add a bit of salt and pepper to the milk as it is simmering. Once the grits have thickened, add 1 heaping tablespoon of Parmesan
cheese for each intended serving of grits (so if you’re making 4 servings, use 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese).

Now if you’re not into the idea of eating regular grits, this would be delicious atop my Four Cheese Mashed Cauliflower or…you can make “grits.” See the recipe box below for how to make them!

Nik's Fake Grits
Print Recipe
Made with cauliflower, these make a great base for shrimp and grits, or any other recipe where you normally use traditional grits.
    Servings Prep Time
    6 servings 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    10 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    6 servings 10 minutes
    Cook Time
    10 minutes
    Nik's Fake Grits
    Print Recipe
    Made with cauliflower, these make a great base for shrimp and grits, or any other recipe where you normally use traditional grits.
      Servings Prep Time
      6 servings 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      10 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      6 servings 10 minutes
      Cook Time
      10 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: servings
      Instructions
      1. In a pot, bring water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Cook until very, very soft (about 10-12 minutes).
      2. Drain and then mash (in whatever manner you see fit – I use a good old potato masher). You should mash it so that the cauliflower no longer looks like florets. If you still see florets, keep mashing! TIP: Drain the cauliflower into a colander and then mash in the colander in the sink. It helps to remove more of the water.
      3. Mix in cream soup, cheese and milk. For thinner “grits” use more soup and milk. For thicker “grits” use less cream soup/milk. Mix thoroughly. 
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