California Shrimp & Grits

A Spicy Broth Based Version

Let me start off by saying that this recipe is cheese free. You heard me right, cheese free. I’ve never had real southern style shrimp and grits, but after going through recipes I decided that I couldn’t bring myself to cook shrimp and grits with a cup of cheese, plus cream, plus butter! Not to mention that some of the recipes add bacon on top of all that! So, being from a state of mass veggie appeal (pun intended) I decided to make a delicious healthy California style shrimp and grits. I find this dish to be spicy, tangy and oh so creamy, without the cheese and only 1 tablespoon of optional butter. If you want to make this recipe vegan, substitute Earth Balance for the butter and smoked tofu for the shrimp.

1 1/2 pounds raw 25/30 shrimp
2 ribs organic celery
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
2 small zucchini
1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
2 tbs tomato paste
3 tbs olive oil
Louisiana seasoning (cajun)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
dash or two Franks Red Hot or Tabasco Sauce

3/4 cup grits (whatever kind you prefer)
1 tbs butter (optional)
salt to taste
3 cups water or follow package directions for water

I cook the grits according to package instructions with the exception of constantly whisking for an additional 3-4 minutes. This makes them creamier so you don’t have to add a bunch of fat. I also use quality salt. Either kosher or Himalayan pink salt. A pound of butter is not needed for tasty grits!

For the rest:
Clean the shrimp including the tail and put in a bowl with a pinch of cajun seasoning and a dash of Franks, if you like it spicy. Set aside. Dice up all the veggies, including the garlic. Put 1 tbs of the olive oil in a non stick skillet and add the peppers, using fairly high heat to char them a little. Turn the heat down and add the celery and garlic. Sparingly salt the veggies and grind quit a bit of pepper into them. After a couple of minutes add the tomato paste, cooking until slightly browned. Give it some love at this point as it will try to stick or burn, stirring often. Add the wine and water. Cover and cook until the celery is tender. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil and add the shrimp in a single layer, searing for about 2 minutes per side. Make sure the oil is hot so the shrimp get a nice golden brown color. Do not over cook! No one like a hockey puck disguised as shrimp. Remove from pan on a plate and set aside. To the pan of veggies that should now be cooked, toss in the zucchini. If the sauce is too runny whisk in 1 tbs of Wondra or rue, if you have been genius enough to store some. Cook for a few more minutes then add in the shrimp. Stir well and turn off the heat. Let sit a couple more minutes to meld the flavors.

Serve in a nice deep bowl layering the grits, then the delicious shrimp mixture. I know I said this is cheese free but if you are feeling deprived of cheese shred some fresh Parmesan or other hard cheese on top. It really doesn’t need it but I understand!

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