Zesty Baby Shrimp with Cheesy Creamed Cauliflower

This recipe is a low-carb twist on the classic Southern shrimp and grits meal. It’s fast and easy comfort food.

You might even be able to find a prepacked mix of dried spices very similar to this; if not, the more unusual ingredients can be had at an Asian market, mixed in advance, and saved in a sealed container in the pantry for months. I also highly recommend this herb and spice mix for any baked or grilled seafood or chicken; it’s a little spicy, somewhat complex, and very flavorful.  I based it on Henry Langdon’s Sea Salt Rub, a mix brought back from Australia by a couple of friends, to which I became rather addicted!

The cauliflower makes a surprisingly rich base in lieu of grits.  In fact, among my friends, this is the most popular of all my paleo/low-carb recipes.

For the shrimp
1 lb baby (or regular) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp fresh cilantro, finely diced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp dried and chopped kaffir lime leaves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For the cauliflower
2 Tbsp butter
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and washed*
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric, or to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a baking tin, mix all shrimp ingredients until the shrimp are evenly smothered in oil, herbs, and spices. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop cauliflower. In a food processor (or by hand), finely dice cauliflower to desired texture (I like mine fairly smooth but still rough, about like the traditional grits this recipe is based on). With a small food processor, this may take up to four rounds. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in cauliflower and allow to cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure your cauliflower doesn’t stick; if it does, add more butter and/or reduce heat.

3. Stir cream into the saucepan and allow to come just to a boil, before reducing heat to simmer. Continue to stir frequently until the cauliflower mixture has evenly absorbed the cream, then add the rest of the cauliflower dish’s ingredients and stir thoroughly. Keep over a low heat until the shrimp are done.

4. As your cauliflower finishes cooking, briefly broil shrimp for approximately two minutes, but do not brown. Remove from oven; stir cauliflower mixture thoroughly.

5. Spoon cheesy cauliflower into two shallow bowls (medium pasta plates are ideal), and top with shrimp. Serve immediately.

*You can also use frozen, pre-washed cauliflower.  I keep some on hand in the freezer for just these occasions.

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Stella’s Easy Shrimp and Grits

My friends Mike and Laura recently gave me a delightfully foodie souvenir from their recent trip to Australia: a jar of Henry Langdon’s Sea Salt Rub, with coriander, chilli [sic], and kaffir lime. My mind immediately started racing, trying to land upon the perfect recipe.

While lounging out by the pool today, I told my neighbor Johnny that I was considering using it to make baked chicken and rice, but he suggested I use shrimp instead, which led to the epiphany: shrimp and grits (and chicken).

This recipe took me 30 minutes, dirtied exactly three bowls/pans, and was out-of-this-world delicious. Proof that four minds are better than one.

2 cups fresh or frozen shrimp
6 chicken tenders (or breasts cut lengthwise into three)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup Henry Landgon’s Sea Salt Rub: Coriander, Chilli, and Kaffir Lime or, for those of you not in Australia, a mixture of same in roughly equal parts, including: sea salt flakes, red pepper flakes, dried coriander, garlic powder, black pepper, ground ginger, and ground kaffir lime leaves
~2 cups prepared grits (I suggest using my Horseradish Cheese Grits recipe, as I did here)

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Pour olive oil in a baking dish, then stir in shrimp and chicken until well-coated. Pour in salt rub mixture and stir until all pieces of meat are evenly coated in herbs and spices.

2. Cook for approximately 25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your grits and leave them thickening over low heat, keeping the cheese, butter, and horseradish to the side.

3. After 25 minutes, turn oven to broil. Fold butter, horseradish, and cheese into grits (as per recipe).

4. Spoon out grits onto the center of two large plates. Remove shrimp and chicken from oven and artfully arrange the pieces evenly over the grits. Sprinkle with leftover cheese and dust with a little more freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.