Health conscious cooking doesn’t have to mean gross or eating only raw carrots. While you should eat vegetables ( a conversation for another day), there is plenty of room for healthy takes on southern classics. I don’t know very many people who are opposed to good southern cooking.
In the South, cooking is often referred to as “soul food”—and is made with love. In fact, many southerners celebrate just about everything with food. This doesn’t have to lead to a Santa Clause style belly that jiggles around. You can be perfectly jolly, sans the belly. So what is one thing that is quintessentially southern? Mardi Gras, of course. Where does Mardi Gras take place? New Orleans.
New Orleans is known for a particular dish…BBQ Shrimp. Don’t be fooled. It has nothing to do with sticky, sweet BBQ sauce. It’s perfectly delicious, but is filled with butter and other belly expanding ingredients. Its time I put my healthy spin on it. For the purists, its not “exactly” BBQ shrimp. How could it be? I’m drastically reducing the fat & calories. It is still delicious though. Have faith. It was still made with love, and therefore, is still “soul food.”
pictured w/ Gambini's Cheese Grits, and my take on collard greens.
New Orleans Style BBQ Habanero Shrimp
10 large shrimp
1 tsp olive oil
1 habanero, stemmed, seeded, & thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t italian seasoning
a few churns of fresh black pepper
juce of 1/2 lemon
3 tsp of hot sauce
2 tsp of water
1 T light butter
1 scallion, sliced
1. In a bowl, combine the shrimp with 1 t of the olive oil, habanero, garlic, Italian seasoning, pepper, 2 t of hot sauce, 2 t of water, and lemon juice. Toss well to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate the shrimp at room temperature for 20 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
2. Heat a small/medium sautee pan, and pour contents of small bowl in over medium heat. Cook until sauce bowls and shrimp turn bright pink. Remove shrimp from sauce, and continue to boil marinade a few minutes longer.
3. Return shrimp to the pan, and turn heat to low. Add remaining hot sauce, butter and scallion.
Gambini's Fluffy Cheese Grits
Yeah, you heard me right--as in Vincent LaGuardia "Vinny" Gambini. If you recall, there is a very distinctive scene about grits. To which a character states, “no self respecting southerner uses instant grits.” Well, my friend, I beg to differ. Any self-respecting southern cook should know how to prepare grits, but that’s definitely a hard and fast rule. In honor of my favorite legal movie…here we go. Vinny, this one’s for you.
This is actually my take on a recipe my Mom makes. Love you, Mom!
1 packet instant grits (I used butter flavor)½ c water
2 wedges laughing cow cheese (I like garlic & herb or french onion)
3 1/2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, grated (I put a hunk into the food processor to get it fine)
1/8 c of skim milk
Set oven to 350 degrees
1. Boil water and add grits. Prepare as packet describes. Remove from heat
2. In a small bowl, beat egg and milk together until frothy.
3. Slowly (SLOWLY!!!) add egg mixture to the grits, in batches. Continue to whisk and temper both ingredients until fully combined into the grits. (This is to prevent scrambled eggs)
4. Add in 3 T of the parmesan cheese, stir.
5. Crumble/pull apart the laughing cow wedges into the mix, stir.
6. Spray a dish with cooking spray. Pour grit mixture into pan. (I used a 15oz corning ware dish).
7. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 T of parmesan cheese
7. Bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown.