My apologies to the purists.

These aren’t really grits. They aren’t true polenta. But they came together quickly and made the children smile.

Purity (at least in cooking) is over-rated.

Slap-Dash Shrimp & Grits

The genesis of this dish came from Ina Garten, who was rattling on about cheesy grits as I dusted my family room. The husband was traveling, and I’d planned to feed the kids leftovers from last night’s dinner. But I had some cornmeal in the pantry, some shrimp in the freezer and a few spoonfuls of salsa verde in the fridge. Dunked in cold water, the shrimp thawed in less than 30 minutes, which is about how long it took to assemble everything else.

  • 1 cup medium-ground cornmeal
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • Salsa Verde

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Season with salt, then turn the heat to low.

Slowly pour the cornmeal into the water, whisking as you go. Whisk vigorously until there are no lumps, then cover the pan and allow the mixture to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, whisking every 7-10 minutes so nothing sticks.

Meanwhile, glaze a saute pan with olive oil. Add the red pepper. Season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for 5 more minutes — until the tomatoes soften and start to break down.

Add the shrimp and garlic to the saute pan and cook until the shrimp turn pink. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Take the lid off your grits and whisk in 2 tablespoons of butter. (You can surely add more if you like … the more butter you add, the more creamy your final dish.) Add the cheddar cheese and whisk until it has melted. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or a bit of lemon juice if you desire.

Place the grits on a plate. Top with the shrimp, then dollop with salsa verde. Serve immediately.