I’ve been stalling on posting this because Shane took a couple of really lovely photos of this delicious dinner that I wanted to include in the post. So blame the tardiness on him. It’s definitely his fault. And definitely not the fault of the post-vacation sleepies. Nooooo, never that.
Seriously, though, this was a recipe worth doing battle with the post-vacation sleepies. The grits are made with milk, making them richer and creamier than your standard breakfast variety grits. The bacon is fried then set aside (for snacking) while everything else is sauteed in the rendered fat. Prepping everything did require some manic whisking and a lot of what’s going on in this pan? what’s going on in that pan? what’s happening over here? – but it only lasts a few minutes, and then you have a totally comforting and delicious plate of food in front of you and all is forgotten.
My friend Paul, a lifetime Southerner, was blown away by the concept of shrimp AND grits, together at last! I was blown away that he’d lived all his years in the South without ever bumping into them. This is one combination I hope to revisit again, and soon, especially since it’s rumored that we can get LOCAL shrimp here in the Mitten.
Shrimp and Grits with Spinach from Bon Appetit
When last we encountered soba, it was in the context of a wild goose chase that took us to five separate grocery stores. In hopes of avoiding said goose chase, we bought a couple of packets, the last of which has lingered in our pantry until tonight. I gave yet another Moosewood recipe a try, and the results were consistent with the last few – i.e. filling, bland, and somewhat unremarkable. We sat down to eat with an array of hot sauces between us, and Shane asked why we kept trying Moosewood recipes if they’re always bland.
This recipe was – fine. It required more pans (total: 3) than were really necessary, and produced far less sauce than is needed to coat the quantity of soba used. We both ladled on the hot sauce to compensate for the lack of spice. If I were to make it again, I’d reduce the soba to 6 0z and add more broccoli. I would also add more garlic and a chili or two in the saute step. It was a satisfying meal, but only with some doctoring. I liked it in concept, but not in execution. Etc.
Gingered Shrimp and Soba from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
So the idea for the evening was that we’d come home, Shane would work out while I made dinner, and then we’d watch the State of the Union address. Instead, we were both starving when we got home, so that plan totally went out the window. We worked together to prep the squash, pancetta, onion, and shrimp for the risotto, and were rewarded with a comforting and not totally bad for us dinner.
While I will admit to taking some license with many recipes, we followed the recipe for Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp almost to the letter. Granted, I did substitute Israeli couscous for the Arborio rice, but that doesn’t explain why we had at least a cup of excess liquid. With the amount of vegetable stock reduced by 1-1.5 cups, I think this would be a just about perfect comfort food – warm and savory, with a bit of sweetness from the squash offset by the unexpected salt of the pancetta. We both added a bit of kosher salt, and were again amazed by how just that small amount of salt nudges the other flavors to the front. We definitely will make this again, and hopefully soon.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp from Bon Appetit