Friday, February 27, 2009

weeknight dinner: 2 for 1!

two recipes recently struck my interest and luckily enough they were perfect to make back-to-back. the first recipe is shrimp in grits. the second is a polenta pizza that was recently featured in a breakfast pizza article in the new york times. the polenta recipes were slightly different, so i combined the two to use the same polenta for both recipes.

night 1: i've never actually eaten shrimp and grits before these ones. thus my basis for "genuine shrimp and grits" comparison is nil. i do know yummy food though and this was it. simple, easy and delicious. i tend to shy away from dairy so the grits probably could have used more cheese and butter.

night 2: oooohhhmygod. positively scrumptious. run and make this right now. for real. it doesn't even take long! take that rachel ray 30-minute fake meals!!!

the great thing about both of these recipes, in addition to being quick and simple, is that it's easy to substitute the ingredients. take a look around your kitchen, see what you have, and don't feel the need to run to the store to purchase every item.

part 1: shrimp and grits

adapted from bobby flay's food network recipe
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cup grits (i use quick cook--but not instant!--polenta) after all, "no self-respecting southerner uses instant grits"
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 slices turkey bacon, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • bring water and milk to a boil. add salt and pepper. add grits and cook until water is absorbed (time depends on the product you are using). stir in oil.
  • spoon half of the polenta onto a plate or baking sheet, working quickly so polenta does not stiffen; spread it evenly to evenly to a thickness of about 1/2 inch all over. once cooled, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. this is your pizza "dough" for tomorrow morning/afternoon/night.
  • stir butter and cheese into remaining polenta. cover.
  • rinse shrimp and pat dry. fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; drain well. in grease, add shrimp. since this is turkey bacon, add a bit of oil if necessary. cook until shrimp turn pink. add lemon juice, chopped bacon, parsley, scallions and garlic. saute for 3 minutes.
  • spoon grits into a serving bowl. Add shrimp mixture and mix well. serve immediately.
  • serves 1 extremely hungry person or 2 averagely hungry people.
part 2: polenta pizza a la ny times

the original ny times recipe can be found here. i changed some things around according to what i already had at home.

  • your handy-dandy premade polenta pizza "dough"
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 pieces chicken sausage, removed from casing
  • 1/2 pound spinach, washed, trimmed and dried
  • 1/2 cup cheese, crumbled or grated (i used spreadable laughing cow light swiss)

  • heat oven to 450 degrees; brush a layer of olive oil on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.
  • put polenta on pan and bake in oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to brown and crisp on edges. meanwhile, put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add shallots and sausage, break up sausage with a wooden spoon. cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and sausage is cooked through and nicely browned. use a slotted spoon to take onion and sausage out of pan; set aside. add spinach to skillet and sauté until it releases its water and pan becomes dry; sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.
  • take polenta out of oven, sprinkle with cheese, then spread onion-sausage mixture and spinach evenly on top of cheese; drizzle with another tablespoon olive oil. put pizza back in oven for two minutes, or until cheese begins to melt and sausage and vegetables are warmed through. cut into slices and serve hot or at room temperature.


  1. And I made it all without my mortal enemy, wheat! DIEWHEATDIE!

  2. It's official I'm coming to your house for dinner.

  3. Wheat free is fine...but what am I going to do about cheese alternatives? Dare I say the S-word?

  4. i know, i know. i've been meal-limited the last few days and have eaten so many bars fortified with soy, i may turn into a soybean myself.