Thursday, July 31, 2008

WEEKNIGHT DINNER: My Take on Shrimp and Grits, Italian Style

Oh those infamous shrimp and grits…not appealing to you? Well my Italian style will be. A simple substitution of grits for polenta turns this southern specialty into a Mediterranean summer meal. An easy yet beautiful weeknight dinner of creamy polenta, sautéed shrimp with lemon zest and garlic and sautéed summer corn finished with parsley and chives, plus a nice side of grilled summer squashes.
While this may not be the southern dish you have come to love, it mingles Mediterranean flavors in perfect harmony. Creamy polenta is finished with a splash of cream and butter, shrimp are perfectly paired with the sweet corn, and the zucchini provides a counter to all that sweetness. It makes a beautiful presentation, which would make it oh-so perfect for your next dinner party. Plus, this completely original recipe elevates the mundane weeknight cooking to gourmet. What could be better? Oh I know, letting you have the recipe. So here it is…
For the Creamy Polenta:
¾ cup coarse grain polenta
2 ¼ cup water + 1 cup to use if needed
Plus salt to taste
A good splash of heavy cream
1 tbs. butter

Sautéed Shrimp:
16 large shrimp de-veined and peeled
Zest of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled, and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbs. of olive oil

Sautéed Corn:
3 Fresh corn husked, and cut off the cob
2 small chopped leeks
½ tbs. chopped fresh parsley
½ tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 tbs. olive oil

Grilled Summer Squash:
I used a grill pan…easier than starting the grill for one item.
A Variety of summer squash, about 4 or 5 sliced lengthwise into thin strips
1 tbs. olive oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Put 2 1/4-cup water into a pot and add a good amount of salt. Bring to a boil and whisk in cornmeal. Stir as much as you can, for about 25 to 30 minutes. Add water if it looks like it is getting to firm. When it is just about finished, add cream and butter and stir, and take off the heat.

Put all shrimp ingredients to a bowl and let sit until ready to cook.
Heat a sauté pan with just a little olive oil. Wait until the pan gets really hot. Place the shrimp in the pan, making sure to leave room between each shrimp. No overlapping. Cook on each side for 2 minutes. And you are done.

Heat olive oil a sauté pan and add the leeks. Let them sweat, 5 minutes. Then add the corn and season with salt and pepper. Cook until corn is tender and done, occasionally stirring, around 5 minutes. Take off heat and toss with parsley and chives.

Heat a grill pan, or turn on your grill, then coat your squash slices with olive oil and season each side with salt and pepper. Place slices on the grill, and turn when they have grill marks. When each side has good grill marks, they are done.

If you want a vegetarian version: skip the shrimp, lay the squash on top of the polenta with a sprinkling of corn and add a little lemon zest on top of everything.

Put a scoopful of polenta in the center of a plate. Place 4 shrimp on top of the polenta and sprinkle with your sautéed corn. Serve with squash on the side of the presentation.
ENJOY your delicious summer meal.

I paired this with a nice summer white, which was fruit forward and very drinkable.


peopleeater said...

i'd take chicken and waffles over shrimp and grits any day... but polenta and grits? perhaps i'll have to reconsider.

skp said...

When I am home for the summer, it's sometimes tricky finding meals to make that my whole family will equally love, but this one would do it I think!

Manger La Ville said...

I added line on how to make it vegetarian for you!!!
Plus you could add the shrimp for the omnivores.

SJ :) said...

Yum! I love shrimp:) Great job:D

Jessica@Foodmayhem said...

I like the scattering of sauteed corn. Looks perfect for summer!

hms said...

I love polenta! I only wish I could make it! I need a lesson! Sounds yummy!

Anonymous said...

The pictures don't do it justice. It looks delicious. Bet it was.

cook eat FRET said...

that right there is a perfect dinner. no seriously. i mean it. i'd love that so....

Tartelette said...

As a southerner married to another kind of southerner I have come to adapt shrimp and grits because I'll never make them like his mom does! Your version sounds delicious!