Italian Shrimp and Grits

Buongiorno! (I wish you could hear me try to say that properly)

Bon-GEE -OR- no. It still needs practice.

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Anyway, today I wanted to share with you one of my new favorite recipe creations. As cliche as it is, once the New Year hits, I get into eating healthy mode again. But, there’s no reason that healthy has to be boring, or bland! I had a dear friend over for dinner the other day, and we decided to go with an Italian theme for the evening.The flavors of Italy is a beautiful thing, and although this isn’t a classic Italian dish, all of my favorite ingredients are present.

So, here’s what we’ve got. A play on the classic southern dish of Shrimp and Grits. Cheesy polenta. Light, fluffy, creamy, and oh so indulgent. (Did I mention, GLUTEN FREE?! Oh yes). Crispy pancetta, sweet and smoky roasted red peppers, sweet peas, and fresh, juicy shrimp all swimming in a glorious garlic parsley sauce, with just a light squeeze of lemon on top to brighten it up.

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Mmmmmm. Is you’re mouth watering yet? Mine is (again).

This may seem like an indulgent, non healthy dish, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. You can enjoy every bite guilt free. That’s the key to this dish; splurge a little and get the really good ingredients. (Non of that powdered Parmesan we are so unfortunately famous for in this country.) It will pay off in the end, trust me.

How easy is it to make, you ask? Pssht. Lets find out!

Italian Garlic Shrimp with Cheesy Polenta

Serves 4

What You’ll Need:

+ 1 cup polenta

+ 4 cups chicken stock

+ 2 cups Italian cheese (shredded)

+ 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese

+ 2 Tablespoons milk

+ 1/2 pound pancetta, cubed

+ 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp

+ 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

+ 1/2 cup sweet green peas

+ 2 cloves garlic, minced

+ 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley

+ 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

+ olive oil

For the Polenta: In a saucepan over medium high heat, add the chicken stock plus one cup of water, and bring to a boil. Add the polenta, and whisk to avoid clumping. Reduce the heat to low, and cook about 5-8 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Whisk every once in a while to ensure a nice, smooth consistency. Take off the heat, and stir in the cheeses and milk, and salt and pepper to taste. (If the polenta seems too thick, you can always add more milk until it is the consistency that you want). Cover until ready to serve.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, fry the pancetta until crispy. Right into that pan, toss in the shrimp, peppers, peas, garlic, and parsley. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top.

To serve, spoon some polenta on the plate, and top with the shrimp mixture. Drizzle with some good quality olive oil (optional).

Enjoy! xo J

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