Sun Dried Tomato Shrimp Creole and Grits + Roasted Jalapeños

Ahhh, I miss New Orleans...

Do you ever get so overwhelmed by a town or a restaurant or a shop that you CANNOT make a decision on anything?

Well, I do. But I take it to whole other level. I am the absolute worst at making decisions, and if you've ever been, well, anywhere with me, you'd know that. 
My friends and family always joke with me about how I stand in a store, holding two pieces of jewelry, or at a restaurant staring at the menu, just waiting for one of the pieces to yell "Pick me, Pick me!". Or waiting for one of the items on the menu to magically be circled. And it never happens. 
What I usually try to do at restaurants is hint at the waiter that I can't decide, and hope they'll bring  bring me a little of both... which also never happens. Hey, it's worth a shot.

I had one of those moments while making dinner last night. It wasn't between two set dishes though, I just couldn't decide what in the world to cook. So I started grabbing random things out of the pantry and fridge, hoping something good would come out of it. 
This actually happens way too often, like the majority of the time I cook dinner for my family.
My problem is if I don't have one single, teeny, tiny ingredient for a certain dish, I won't cook it at all. And most of my recipes I want to try out need some not so everyday ingredients at the Azar house. 

I'm still not used to my new camera & focusing it yet!

Onto the next subject... 
Back in November one of my very close friends surprised me with a gift basket full of things only I would want for my birthday- bamboo cutting boards, an olive oil sprayer, a cookbook, and a bag of Delta Blues Rice Grits. At first, I thought it was just locally grown rice (I was still more excited than someone should be about a bag of rice), but then I opened it up while making this dish to find something so so cool! They were cut into thick grit-like chunks- which really made me happy because I am obsessed with grits/polenta.
I guess I should've known it was different by the huge words on the front of the bag "Rice Grits"(key word being grits), but it just never crossed my mind.
That's when I thought I'd make a hybrid of shrimp creole and shrimp & grits. I know it's been done before, but my version is still different because it has rice grits. Thanks Carsen.
Let me tell you, these "grits" are amazing. They don't have a whole lot of flavor (like any other rice), but the texture is incredible.

Sun-dried Tomato Shrimp Creole & Grits
w/ Roasted Jalapeños
Serves 4 

  • 1 lb. shrimp- peeled & deveined
  • 1 white onion- diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic- minced
  • 1 green bell pepper- thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes- roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tbs. sugar
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes- roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt + 2 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbs. olive oil + 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup stock- chicken/vegetable- or water
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. dried orange peel*
  • 2 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 4 fresh jalapeños
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1/2 tbs. dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cup rice grits*
Pre-heat the oven to a broil.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil on medium heat in a shallow pot. Add onions, garlic, bell pepper, and all spices besides the bay leafs. Stir and cook until the vegetables have a light brown color, add the wine to deglaze the pot, and stir. Add the paste, chopped tomatoes, sugar, stock, and bay leafs. Stir to combine and turn to a simmer. 
Slice the jalapeños in half length-ways. Spread on a roasting sheet lined with foil and drizzle with olive oil. Broil for 8-10 minutes or until charred and softened. 
In a medium sized pan, add 2 tbs. olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried basil with the shrimp, mix to coat all shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side to get a light crust, and to turn a light pink color. Add shrimp to the creole.
Serve over rice with roasted jalapeños. 

*Can sub with orange zest
**Use any grits or rice. My favorite way to cook rice:
1:2 rice to liquid ratio- I use water.
Add 1 bay leaf, a pinch of salt, pepper, 2 smashed garlic cloves, and a pat of butter. Bring to a boil, cover, turn to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork- do not try to stir/mix.

                                                                                                                          -Cecilia Azar


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