Shrimp and Grits is a favorite of mine. Whenever I see it on a menu at a restaurant that’s what I order. Once a waitress at a diner on a road trip told me not to because it wasn’t that good. I still couldn’t resist and found my longing even stronger because I wanted to know why it was so bad. She was right; it was awful. Another delicious option is shrimp and polenta. The texture of the corn meal really adds to the dish and makes me feel a little more Italian.
One of the staples I keep on hand in my kitchen freezer is cauliflower rice. I am a huge fan of mashed cauliflower as low-carb option. I had the genius idea to bring the two together for a twisted version of this southern comfort dish. I would love to say healthier; I mean cauliflower is a vegetable. I will leave that designation up to you. This recipe is two servings because I am using the frozen cauliflower and I like big portions and I cannot lie. If you have a fresh head of cauliflower you can chop, boil and pulse in a food processor to make the “rice.” With a full head of cauliflower, you can get four servings, just up your bacon to 6 slices and your shrimp to a pound or 28-30 shrimp. I keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand, but fresh shrimp would be amazing! Keep in mind you may need to adjust the butter, milk and cheese if you are increasing the servings.
Mashed Cauliflower (Faux Grits)
A bag of frozen Cauliflower Rice
a pat of butter
½ small onion, chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 TBSP Mascarpone Cheese
¼ cup milk
salt and pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Additional milk or butter to adjust the consistency of desired
14 Large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 TBSP Garden Gourmet Chili Paste
optional hot stuff, your choice, to taste.
(½ tsp cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce or fresh peppers)
a pat of butter
¼ cup of milk
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Directions for Mashed Cheesy Cauliflower “Grits”
Follow the microwave directions for the cauliflower rice (or prepare fresh as above before you begin) In a medium pot sauté ½ of a small chopped onion in butter until soft, about 2-3 mins, add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add microwave cauliflower bag to pot and stir together.
Add the salt and pepper, mascarpone, and milk. Stir so that the mascarpone melts. Blend everything together using an emulsion blender until smooth (or a Vitamix/blender). Add shredded cheese and stir, allowing it to melt. Add more butter or milk to adjust the consistency. TASTE and season accordingly. Set this aside while finishing the shrimp.
Directions for Shrimp and Sauce
Rinse shrimp, pat dry.
Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; then remove from pan on to a paper towel lined plate. Chop when cooled.
In bacon grease on medium heat, add shrimp. Cook until shrimp turns pink flipping after 1 min. Cook for another min. Add lemon juice, garlic, chopped bacon, parsley, scallions, chili paste and your choice of the hot stuff. Cut down the heat and cook for another minute or so.
To make the sauce add the pat of butter, milk and shredded cheddar, stir until everything is incorporated.
Serve cauliflower in bowls and top with shrimp mixture. I use seven shrimp per serving because that is the serving size on the bag of the frozen shrimp I use but you can adjust. In the summer I add fresh corn cut from the cob. So good! It adds a sweet freshness and allows me to up the spicy! It’s important to me to have easy staples on hand, like the frozen cauliflower and frozen shrimp. Obviously fresh is best. But you don’t always have it and it’s more work.