About three or four years ago, “y’all” some how made its way into my vocabulary. I have no idea where or whom I picked it up from or how I subconsciously decided to add this to regular conversation, but it seems like it is here for the long haul. I have even uttered “all of y’all” a few times. This affliction seems to especially irk Bawstin, who points it out every time I use it.
While I cannot ever see myself becoming a good Southern girl, they do have it right on a few things, especially food. Fried chicken, pecan pie and sweet tea are things I can certainly get behind. I especially enjoy biscuits and gravy and the Southern affinity to slather things in butter. While all these are great, my all time favorite Southern delicacy has to be shrimp and grits.
My lust for shrimp and grits was awakened about three years ago at Vidalia. That meal was pure perfection; the shrimp was wonderfully seasoned and cooked for just the right amount of time. While I love shrimp, it can be fickle and become rubbery if it spends an extra 30 seconds in the pan. No such sin occurred to these shrimp. The grits were velvety and smooth, with just the perfect amount of cheese. Since my introduction to this classic, I order it every time I see it on a menu.
I have been dying to make shrimp and grits at home, but have been hesitant. I am not a Southerner, have never made grits and I fear disappointing myself greatly. It is on my list of things to make (oh yes, there is a written list) but I haven’t quite summoned the nerve. So, instead, I made another shrimp and carb wonder, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
I prepared this last Sunday evening when my friend Sunshine came over. He is a pescatarian, so it proves a tad more challenging when he comes over. This dish, Shrimp with Feta and Orzo, isn’t anything too fancy, but it was perfect for a casual dinner with a friend. The leftovers were fantastic, too. The original recipe calls for garlic herb feta; I decided to mince some garlic and use fresh herbs instead. The feta melts a bit as it cooks, and along with the juices from the tomatoes, creates a light, pinky sauce. In one pan, you get your vegetables, a protein and a starch. The only thing I love more than a delicious dinner is one that doesn’t dirty five pans.
Hopefully, the shrimp and grits I vow to make turn out half as good.
Shrimp with Feta and Orzo
Adapted from Good Housekeeping
1 1/2 cups orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 lbs peeled and deveined shrimp
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
½ tablespoon fresh thyme
½ tablespoon marjoram, chopped
4 oz feta cheese
Prepare orzo in boiling salted water as label directs. Meanwhile, in nonstick 10-inch skillet, melt margarine or butter over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for one minute. Add shrimp, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turn opaque throughout, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Remove skillet from heat. Drain orzo; toss with shrimp mixture and feta.