A couple months ago, I went grocery shopping with my son, who can make extras seemingly leap into the shopping cart. That week it was instant grits, cheese flavored.
So I made it for breakfast the next morning and the boy was not impressed. Great, what am I going to do with a box of grits?
Then, on a trip to Whole Foods, I found the answer. Right outside the door was a stack of The Whole Deal, the grocery chain's newsletter/coupon treasure trove. (Grab one of these when you go because there are a ton of great coupons, and great recipes.)
This time there was a recipe for Easy Shrimp and Grits With Sweet Peppers. Bing! I found a use for the grits. I followed the recipe pretty much as written but I subbed out the regular grits for the cheese grits and I added more shrimp, to boost the protein. Shrimp is crazy low in calories so a few extra only adds 20 calories per ounce. I also didn't add the salt and used reduced-sodium bacon because I'm a bit obsessed with reducing sodium.
But this recipe has it all -- crunch from bacon, creaminess from grits, sweetness from red peppers, heat and tartness from the hot sauce and lemon juice (I used Frank's Red Hot sauce). And each serving has only 280 calories. Here's the recipe from Whole Foods:
Easy Shrimp and Grits With Sweet Peppers
(Recipe from Whole Foods Markets)
3 slices 365 Everyday Value Uncured Bacon
1 cup white or yellow grits
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 small yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
1/3 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (fresh or frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce, plus more for serving (optional)
Cook bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, flipping once, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Pour off and reserve all but one teaspoon bacon fat from skillet. Set aside off heat.
Meanwhile, bring 3 1/2 cups salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Whisk in grits, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thick and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. (Some grits have different cooking times, so adjust water and cooking time as needed.)
Reheat the one teaspoon bacon fat over medium-high heat; add onions, garlic, peppers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Move onion mixture to one side of the skillet and add another teaspoon bacon fat. Add shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add lemon juice and hot sauce. Toss shrimp and onion mixture together. Spoon hot grits into bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Crumble bacon over the top and serve with additional hot sauce on the side.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving (about 14oz/393g-wt.): 280 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 65mg cholesterol, 630mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 12g protein