Cajun Shrimp and Grits with Garlic Kale
Cajun-style shrimp and grits! We’re seasoning up some large shrimp and serving them on a bed of creamy, homestyle grits with lots of sautéed garlicky kale on the side. How perfect would this be for your Sunday brunch?!
Brunching like a Champ on these Shrimp and Grits And it’s Friday!! ???
I’m sad to report on the best day of the week that winter is back, once again. Seriously! I can’t take anymore of this crazy weather we’re having in Houston. Someone get me out of here. Send me to the tropics. Send me anywhere! I mean, one day we’re in flip flops and the next, i’m pulling out my big coat and boots.
The only saving grace — being able to munch on COMFORT FOOD and allowing yourself to be a little LAZY because, you know, it’s COLD. So i’m channeling all the warm vibes I have left in me to make bright, punch-in-your-mouth food like these cajun-style shrimp and grits. Okay, so this definitely isn’t a traditional take on them (where’s the cream sauce?!). And I decided not to go with the sauce route, because um… calories. <– Those pesky little things that add up and all of a sudden you’re knee deep in a meal thats crossing 700 calories.
Yeah, thanks but no thanks. Instead we’re lightening up the meal with sautéed garlic kale which is my newest OBSESSION. I could eat garlic kale with just about anything and everything. And we’ll actually finish the meal feeling warm and comforted without the guilt of drowning your shrimp and grits in a cream sauce. And besides, this meal DOESN’T need it. Ask the hubby, he ate just as much kale as I did, if not more.
You guys homemade cajun shrimp is just good old food Magic with a capital M because that’s what this truly is.
I’m sautéing up the shrimp covered in my homemade cajun seasoning which is just a couple of staple ingredients, like paprika, garlic, and onion powder, things that we all have in our pantry because EVERYONE needs to be able to make blackened cajun shrimp STAT. Seriously where have these been all my life? I add in a tablespoon of butter right at the end and that’s where the Magic happens. Melted butter just nicely coats the shrimp and gives it that beautiful glow. And most importantly, it makes it taste ? for your mouth.
And if you’re wondering how in the heck do you eat this whole thing together? Well, if you’re like me, you break a small piece of the shrimp off, take a little bit of the kale and scoop up some of the grits and there you go! And if you’re like the hubby, you meticulously remove the shells from the shrimp, break the shrimp into small pieces then proceed to swirl your grits with the garlic kale until it is a homogenous mixture. And then proceed to eat it. Regardless of which route you take, shrimp and grits are a winner.
I mean, if we’re honest with our selves, kale isn’t the most delicious thing in the world to eat when it’s raw. And i’ll tell you right now i’m actually not a big fan of kale. Yeah. Meh. ?. I mean sure, i’ll have it in smoothies and this is still one of my all time favorite meals (I have LOTS of them) but on it’s own, it leaves me kinda bored and with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth that just won’t go away. Leafy greens shouldn’t have an after taste.
Which is why I took big culinary (and big girl) leap and decided to sauté kale instead of spinach for this recipe. Not because spinach wouldn’t be good, it would definitely be great, but because I wanted to give this whole kale thing another try. And, not kidding, the hubby and I polished it all off. I’ll hooked on garlic kale for lyfe. Seriously. It’s suppose to serve 6! <– Veggies that taste so good that your not-veggie-loving hubby will eat & your not-so-friendly-towards kale wife too! Score!
And let me break it down for you. The garlic kale MAKES this shrimp and grits dish. It just does. And it’s just a few simple things. I went the baby kale route, you know the kind that comes cleaned and packed in a box for lazy girls like me? Just a splash of olive oil in a pan and a big scoop of minced garlic. The key is to let the garlic infuse into the oil, low and slow is the way to go here. And then pop in that kale and watch it wilt into that garlic oil and then you just hit it with some salt and a big pinch of red pepper flakes because we do things spicy around here.
And just a quick blurb on the grits portion of the shrimp and grits. These are totally customizable! We’re using 6 cups of cooking liquid, but hello to the freedom of using whatever you like! I personally prefer 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 cup water, and 1 cup milk. To make the recipe creamier, I swapped ¼ cup of the milk with heavy cream. I’ll never make grits any other way. I’m not usually a fan of plain one note food so I never use all milk or all broth for my grits. But this ratio is absolutely perfect. And the ¼ cup of cream boils right along with the rest of the ingredients and for good measure, i’m adding in a cup of shredded cheese at the end. Again, use what you like pepper jack, Monterey jack, sharp cheddar, or parmesan. It’s all up to you. Make these grits totally yours.
Seriously y’all. I’m craving these so bad right now. It’s 8 am!
Shrimp and Grits, I LUV YOU. ???
P.S. The hubby totally said this recipe was restaurant quality.
- 6 cups cooking liquid (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ cups stone-ground grits
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 6 cups baby kale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: dried thyme, oregano, onion powder, and cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Grits: Heat the cooking liquid and the butter in a medium-sized heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat. Allow the liquid to come to a simmer, reduce the heat a little, then slowly add the grits into the liquid while you whisk. Allow the mixture to come back to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to make sure the grits don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
- Kale: Heat the olive oil and garlic over low heat in a cast iron or regular skillet. Let the garlic infuse into the oil, about 1-2 minutes, you should see the garlic starting to sizzle but do not allow the garlic to burn. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the kale and toss, allowing it to wilt until desired texture. Add in salt to preference and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove kale to a plate, keep warm.
- Cajun Shrimp: In a small bowl, combine the paprika, thyme, oregano, onion powder, cayenne, and garlic powder, along with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, mix. Sprinkle the shrimp with half the seasoning. In the same skillet as you cooked the kale, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium-high heat. If you're using a cast iron skillet, you may need a little more oil. Add the shrimp to the pan, sprinkle with the remaining seasoning to taste, you certainly don't have to use all of it if you don't want to. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the shrimp curl into a 'c' shape. Remove the pan from heat, add the butter and just swirl the pan and toss the shrimp to allow it to melt completely.
- Serve the kale and cajun shrimp over a large scoop of grits. Garnish with a sprinkle of parmesan, if you'd like!
IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts, include 1 cup of water, 1 cup of 1% milk, and 4 cups of chicken broth for the grits. This cajun shrimp and grits recipe serves 6.