I grew up in Florida and was raised to love grits (as well as all types of citrus fruit and seafood). My kids, born and raised in Virginia, grew up to love them too. Being from the North, my husband was a grits convert. The entire family can sit down to enjoy a breakfast or dinner with a side of grits. The entire family enjoys traveling too, and as we’ve traveled throughout the South, we’ve ordered shrimp and grits from many restaurants. I decided it was time to “healthify” this favorite Southern comfort food. And this recipe for healthy shrimp and grits does not disappoint.
How I Made Healthy Shrimp and Grits
I started with whole-grain grits instead of a refined product. I prefer the yellow grits for flavor and color, but feel free to swap them out for white grits. Just skip the quick-cooking varieties. To keep the calories down, I used as little oil as possible and avoided butter. I’m not much of a fan of bacon or ham, so I omitted them too, but kept the smoky flavor with the addition of smoked paprika. For a boost of umami, I sautéed some mushrooms. If you want even more umami, add a little Parmesan cheese to the grits or sprinkle some on top of the dish before serving.
Healthy Shrimp and Grits
- 3¾ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
- 1 cup stone ground, whole-grain yellow grits (may be labeled polenta)
- 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2½ cups sliced mushrooms
- 6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Combine the chicken broth and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Gradually pour in the grits and stir vigorously. Reduced the heat to to medium low, so the grits cook at a low boil. Keep the pot covered except to stir periodically to prevent clumping. Remove from the heat when the grits are at the desired consistency, after about 6 to 8 minutes. For this recipe, I prefer my grits on the wetter side, but you can continue to cook them until they are the way you prefer them.
- While the grits are cooking, toss the shrimp with the salt, crushed garlic and remaining ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.
- Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to cover the pan. Add the shrimp and cook on each side until just pink, a total of about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the skillet.
- In the same skillet, add the mushrooms and scallions. Sauté on medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft. Return the cooked shrimp to the skillet. Sprinkle the thyme and pepper over the shrimp and vegetables and stir.
- To serve, scoop up about 1 cup of grits and 1 cup of shrimp and vegetable mixture into each of 4 bowls. If you have leftovers, store the grits separate from the shrimp for easier reheating.
To reheat, add additional chicken broth to the grits, stir and heat on high in the microwave or on medium in a pot on the stove. The shrimp are best reheated when covered with a damp paper towel at a moderate power in the microwave.