There are times when I crave spicy food and nothing fills the bill better than a seafood and sausage stew with a little kick. When I think of seafood and sausage stews, my mind immediately goes to Louisiana with their rich jambalayas and fragrant, spicy gumbos. Louisiana is also where they catch some of the best sweet wild caught pink shrimp in the world, fresh out of the Gulf of Mexico. Perhaps I feel that way because I grew up in the south and all of our shellfish came from the Gulf. If pink Gulf shrimp aren’t available, feel free to use any wild caught shrimp. I’m also fond of the excellent quality wild caught shrimp caught off of the coast of North Carolina, one of my adopted home states.
If you were to ask me what my favorite food in the whole wide world is, I used to answer “shrimp.” Now, I answer the question with a qualifier – it has to be wild caught shrimp or I’ll pass. Personally I don’t like the iodine taste in the farm raised shrimp and thank you very much, I prefer to peel my own (no easy-peel for me). I also like ‘em even better if I have to remove the heads. So there, I’ve set the record straight about how I like my shrimp.
This recipe starts off with what is called the “holy trinity” in Louisiana Creole & Cajun cooking – an aromatic mixture of onions, celery, and bell peppers. It differs from a French mirepoix in that in Louisiana they substitute bell peppers for the carrots in a traditional mirepoix. The heat in this dish comes from a fiery mixture of canned tomatoes and chilies sold under the Rotel brand. This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, serves 4, can be put together in 20 minutes, and is 191 calories per serving. It doesn’t have the depth of flavor you would gain if you were to make a Louisiana roux, but making a roux takes time and patience. I think you’ll find this quick version very satisfying. If you’re lucky enough to buy heads-on shrimp, add about 10 more minutes, but de-heading fresh shrimp is well worth the extra few minutes it takes. I think you’ll enjoy this spicy, simple Creole shrimp and sausage stew.
Creole Shrimp and Sausage Stew
Adapted from Best of Cooking Light Fast Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes or Less – serves 4
3 teaspoons olive oil
½ of a small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small rib of celery, finely chopped
1 cup chopped sweet red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced low-fat smoked sausage, such as kielbasa or smoked turkey, about 6 ounces
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
¾ cup low-sodium, fat free chicken broth
1 (10 ounce) can un-drained diced tomatoes & green chilies, (such as Rotel brand)
8 ounces wild caught medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (15 ounce) can dark kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons or more chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, sausage and garlic to the pan and sauté 3 minutes or until the bell pepper is tender, stirring occasionally and taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn. Season with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chicken broth and tomato/chilies mixture and bring to a boil. Stir in the shrimp and beans, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or so until shrimp are done. Divide among 4 bowls, sprinkle each serving with parsley, and serve right away with crusty bread to mop up the spicy sauce.
On a separate note, I thought you might enjoy seeing the beautiful oil painting that artist Carol Schiff painted. She used a photograph taken by my husband Meakin as her inspiration for her painting of the lighthouse on Elbow Cay in Hope Town. The lighthouse is in the Abaco Islands of the Bahamas, where we lived for ten years. The Elbow Cay lighthouse is one of the most photographed in the world. Here’s Carol’s beautiful rendition, which is available for sale at Carol Schiff Studios.
To see Meakin’s original photo, check out Island Time in Abaco. Didn’t Carol do a beautiful job?