Cauliflower grits with spicy shrimp is a healthier version of southern comfort food! Sauteed shrimp with bacon, creamy cauliflower grits, and fresh greens.
Are you looking for a healthier way to enjoy some of your favorite comfort food dishes? Today I’m sharing with you a healthy twist on a classic shrimp and grits recipe.
Instead of using grits made from stone-ground cornmeal, I’ve taken cauliflower and turned it into a fresh vegetable loaded side dish that still has the creamy texture you crave. You won’t believe how easy it is to substitute more nutritious ingredients into your meal with just a little creativity. This cauliflower grits recipe served with spicy shrimp will leave you satisfied and nourished.
In the last few years, I’ve completely embraced the versatility of adding cauliflower to various recipes. With just a single head of this cruciferous vegetable, you can create “rice” grains and add creaminess to soups and purees. Some of my favorite ways to use cauliflower are in my shrimp fried rice and cauliflower corn chowder.
How to Make Cauliflower Grits
- Break it Down– For this recipe, I created the cauliflower rice with a simple cheese grater (big holes), or you can quickly process it in a food processor.
- Size- You want them to be about the size of uncooked rice or corn kernels at the biggest.
- Cook- The cauliflower is sautéed until softened and they recreate the smooth and creamy grits texture.
- Texture- I used an immersion blender to quickly pulse some of the cooked cauliflower. I kept some of the rice grains intact, so it gives the slightly rough grit texture. A little bit of cashew milk or dairy milk makes the grits even more flavorful. The cheese is completely optional, just make sure to taste and season the cauliflower grits.
For some classic new southern flavors, the shrimp is tossed in smoky spices and cayenne pepper for a little kick of heat. The shrimp are sautéed with red bell pepper and onion, then hit with a generous amount of lemon juice to brighten the dish.
The last component to make this comforting meal even more healthy is some greens. I choose to use Swiss chard because I like the hint of bitterness and they are in season and gorgeous at our local market. You can substitute kale or other greens of your choice. It only needs a few minutes to cook down.
Now to bring it all together! Each guest gets a generous helping of cheesy grits topped with sautéed greens and spicy shrimp. This shrimp and cauliflower grits recipe is sure to delight without making you feel weighed down. There are always ways to take your most heartwarming dishes and make them more nutritious!
More shrimp recipes
How do you know when shrimp is cooked?
If you want to prevent tough and rubbery shrimp the best tools you have are your senses. The appearance of raw shrimp is typically translucent with a whitish gray colored flesh. As you apply heat, the protein in the shrimp turns to a faint whitish pink color and looks opaque. Shrimp cook extremely fast, you only need a few minutes on each side to form a loose letter “C” shape when properly prepared. A tightly curled shrimp is nearing being overcooked and will toughen in texture the longer it is exposed to heat.
Cauliflower Grits with Spicy Shrimp
- 1 head cauliflower, about 1 pound, yield 4 cups grated
- 1 cup unsweeted cashew milk, or coconut milk or whole dairy milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, or ghee
- ¼ cup unsalted chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, 16/20 count
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon paprika
- 4 slices bacon, thick-cut, chopped into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, about 4 cloves
- ¼ cup yellow onion, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, diced into ¼-inch cubes
- 2 tablesppons olive oil , to substitute bacon grease if desired
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces swiss chard, sliced into 1-inch strips
- Grate or add cauliflower florets to a food processor. You want the cauliflower to be about the size of rice grains.
- Add cauliflower to a medium-sized saute pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, constantly stirring to release some moisture from the vegetable.
- Add one tablespoon of butter, ¼ cup of cashew milk, ¼ cup of chicken stock, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir and cook until moisture gets absorbed and cauliflower cooks through, about 5 minutes.
- Using an immersion hand blender or blender, pulse cauliflower mixture until it resembles the texture of grits (smooth yet still grainy). You don’t want the mixture to be completely smooth.
- Transfer back to the pan. Turn heat to medium and add in ¼ cup grated cheese, stir until melted. Slowly add about ½ to ¾ cup more cashew milk until the grits are smooth and creamy. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired. Keep warm over very low heat while making the shrimp.
- In a medium-sized bowl combine shrimp, ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper, and ⅛ teaspoon paprika. Set aside. You can add more cayenne pepper if you like it really spicy.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add diced bacon and cook until crispy, frequently stirring, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel and drain. Keep 2 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan, or you can remove and use 2 tablespoons of olive oil instead.
- Heat pan to medium and add garlic and onion, stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add in the bell peppers and cook 1 minute.
- Turn heat to medium-high and add shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on the other until pink. Add in 4 teaspoons of lemon juice, 2 tablespoons green onions and cooked bacon. Stir to combine, cook about 1 minute. Transfer shrimp to a warm bowl.
- In the same pan add the swiss chard. Cook on medium-high heat until wilted and tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- To Serve: Stir and reheat grits if needed. Divide grits, greens and shrimp evenly amoung serving bowls.