If you grew up in/have ever lived in/have ever visited the South, you know that shrimp and grits are just one of those thangs. Everyone knows what it is, everyone has had it, everyone loooooves it (if you don’t…come live with me and let me feed you various shrimp and grits recipes until you do), and many people have their own favorite version. The best shrimp and grits I ever had while living in the South was one that came with a “gravy” of sorts…I guess it was kind of a hybrid between a gravy and a sauce, but it was slathered over the shrimp and it soaked down into the grits, giving everything even more flavor.
When I met my husband, he was a grit hater. He’d only ever had the bland, flavorless cafeteria-style grits that are cooked in water and have basically zero salt. This = sinful. If you are in that same boat, you MUST try grits that are cooked the right way. Because if they are cooked correctly, they are creamy and luscious and heavenly ???.
He has now been converted to a grit lover ??…now I just have to make him love goat cheese, which has so far been a wildly unsuccessful venture.
Now, traditionally, shrimp and grits are loaded with cream, butter, cheese, and other fatty ingredients. Which, I mean…let’s be honest…makes them taste like happiness. But I set out for a lighter version of shrimp and grits that still tastes like you just stepped off a plane in North Cackalackey.
Our little tricks to lighten this recipe up:
- Almond milk instead of cream or whole milk to cook the grits (we use half almond milk, half chicken stock).
- NO butter! Just coconut oil.
- Very little cheese. Just 1/4 cup in the entire dish to give the grits some richness.
The result of these healthfiying steps = a lighter version of shrimp and grits that is just as mouthwatering! I mean…we aren’t talkin’ kale salad over here…you are still eating grits, but it’s miles above the recipes that are loaded with cups of heavy cream and tablespoons of butter. We have to make some compromises in life, #amiright?
So let’s just talk about the different elements of this bowl of goodness real quick…
- The grits: cooked in almond milk, chicken stock, and salt, leaving you with a perfectly seasoned, creamy pot of deliciousness. We then add in 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. You don’t really taste the cheese, but it adds so much depth and richness to the grits, which is needed after the lack of fat from milk/cream.
- The shrimp: seasoned to Cajun-y PERFECTION with a mix of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt and seared in a skillet until brown and heavenly ?. Seriously…these shrimp = flavor bomb city.
- The gravy: we start off with sautéing bell pepper, onion, and garlic in the same skillet the shrimp were in. Then we add a roux made with coconut oil and flour, stir that in, add some more delicious Cajun seasoning, pour in some chicken stock, and let that simmer away, thicken up, and do its magic.
Seriously…shrimp and grits are LYYYFFEEEE.
On another note – remember how Seth and I were on a frantic house search not too long ago? I think I was keeping you updated on that…I could be wrong…but regardless, we were trying to buy a house for a while, and it just straight up wasn’t working out. We put offers down on a few, and the sellers accepted other offers. We fell in love with several, but something kept happening with each house, and doors just kept closing for us. We took that as a sign that it wasn’t the right time for us to buy, and we backed off, deciding to stay where we are at.
We are happy with our decision not to buy, but we still really need to figure something out with our house. It is just too tiny. We can barely fit in here with just the two of us and our animals, so there will be zero space when we decide to start a family.
So lately, we have been looking into renting in Manhattan (Kansas, not New York…) instead of buying. We hadn’t considered it strongly because we tried to rent initially when we moved here last year, and there was big fat nothing. Everything that was available was extremely expensive, and even the ones that were super expensive were not very nice at all. So we really hadn’t even given it a second thought since we looked the first time.
Well, we started looking again, and there (for some reason) are a lot available that are super nice right now! And in our price range. The challenging thing is that rentals here fly off the shelves like the last slice of pizza at a little boy’s birthday party, so if I love one, think it’s gorgeous, and it’s in our price range, I’m sure fifty other people will be thinking the exact same thing.
So keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we try to find an awesome place!!!
I will keep my hopes high with the aid of these shrimp and grits…shrimp and grits therapy – highly recommended.Print
Cajun Style Shrimp and Grits – Lightened Up
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- For the shrimp:
- 2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- For the grits:
- 1 cup dry grits
- 2 cups almond milk (or 2% milk if you don’t want to buy almond milk)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
- For the gravy:
- 1 cup diced bell pepper – about 3/4 of one pepper (I used a mix of yellow, green, and red)
- 1 cup diced onion – about 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Bring your almond milk (or regular milk), chicken stock, and some salt to a boil in a medium pot
- When boiling, add your grits*
- Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes (or follow package instructions if it says something different)
- Meanwhile, season your peeled and deveined shrimp with 2 teaspoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat with a bit of coconut oil
- Sear your shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they are browned. Set aside to a plate
- In the same skillet, add your peppers, onion, and garlic
- Season with a little salt and pepper (add more coconut oil if things are getting dry)
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies have softened
- Add your 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Stir to combine
- Let this cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly
- Add your 2 cups of chicken stock to this – stir until combined
- Simmer the gravy until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper
- When your grits are done cooking, add 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper
- To assemble: start with your grits as the bottom layer, add your shrimp on top of the grits, and pour the gravy over everything!
- *Note about grits – The cooking instructions can vary based on the type and brand of grits you buy. If your package gives different instructions for the amount of liquid you need to cook 1 cup of dry grits, follow what the package says. Just do half chicken stock and half almond milk (or regular milk). For example, if it says you need 6 cups of liquid instead of 4, change my recipe to be 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of almond milk versus 2 of each.*
Nutrition information is for 10 shrimp, 1/2 cup of grits, and 1/4 cup of gravy.
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy seafood recipes? Check these out: