Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole - Healthy(er) Version

The first time I ever had grits was on a trip to New Orleans. The hotel I stayed at had the most incredible breakfast buffet featuring classic American dishes like biscuits and red eye gravy, corned beef hash, and something that looked and tasted like cream of wheat that the hotel claimed was grits.

I'm not gonna lie. As a Canadian who had been hearing about, reading about, and yes, even dreaming about this magical edible from the south for years, the pale, somewhat flaccid, mound of goop in my bowl was a huge disappointment.

I left the Big Easy with a love of beignets, po boys, and the entirety of the French Quarter, but sadly, returned to Canada with a skewed impression of grits.

Flash forward a few years. I was taking an Italian cooking class and one of the dishes we prepared was Polenta. From the first bite of the cheesy, corny goodness we were slathering in tomato sauce, I was hooked - so imagine my surprise when the chef/instructor informed the group that polenta is very similar to grits.

I was back in business!

Since then I've cooked grits in many different ways and have adapted some of the old time recipes I've found to make them lighter and healthy(er) without losing the integrity of the dish or the flavour  - which is exactly what I've done with this week's recipe for Shrimp and Grits Casserole.

This recipe is such an easy dish to throw together - I often prepare it the night before or in the morning before work. That way, when I get home I can pop it into the oven and get about the more important business of a glass of wine and a good book.

Get the printable recipe here:  Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Or cook along with me in the Casa de Kitchen Witch and I'll show you step by step just how easy this is to make!

Cheesy Shrimp and Grits Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 % milk
  • 1 1/2 cups no sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry corn grits or polenta
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheese
  • 4 cups cooked shrimp
  • 2 tsp of Creole seasoning spice
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 tbsp of finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1m 540 ml can stewed tomatoes or Rotel
  • 1/2 cup(s) light Cream Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the grits; reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the cheese, egg, and cayenne pepper. Spoon mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  4. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Saute the onions and peppers in a non-stick pan misted with cooking spray or olive oil over medium high heat until they just begin to grow soft and translucent. Add two tsp of creole spice and the chopped garlic and saute until the garlic is soft and fragrant ( about 45 seconds). Add the can of stewed tomatoes, bring to a boil and then turn to low and leave to simmer five minutes. Add the cooked shrimp and the cream cheese and stir until well incorporated. Remove from heat.
  6. When grits have baked for 15 minutes, pour the shrimp mixture over the warm casserole, sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let rest 20 minutes before serving. 

Nutritional analysis

Serving size: 388 grams

Amount Per Serving
Calories 265
Total Fat 6.8g
Saturated Fat 3.6g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 166mg
Sodium 707mg
Vitamin A 35%     •     Vitamin C 61%
Calcium 31%     •     Iron 39%
Nutrition Grade A-

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, a former website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada, the $20,000.00 winner of the online competition "The Real Women of Philadelphia" and a finalist on the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish. 

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