A Memorable Feast

Some of our favorite recipes from the last 30 years come together for a mix-and-match menu designed to savor

Blackened Shrimp Tacos
The original recipe called for shrimp from Kilkenny Creek on Ossabaw Island, but Russo’s Seafood offers an excellent substitute: the Savannah institution sources its shrimp from Wassaw Sound, where the Bull and Wilmington rivers slip into the Atlantic. Try these tasty tacos with black beans, refried beans, or crispy corn tortilla chips on the side.
RECIPE
Makes about 8 tacos
3/4 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 tbsp. butter
1 clove garlic
1 avocado, sliced
1 package flour tortillas
Fresh pico de gallo or mild jarred salsa Cotija cheese
Fresh parsley
BLACKENING SEASONING
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cayenne powder (for less spicy seasoning, reduce to 1?2 tbsp or to taste)
1 tbsp. onion powder 1 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano 1 tsp. dried thyme
Prepare the blackening seasoning by stirring
all the spices together in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and toss or stir to coat. Add the butter and minced garlic to a large skillet, and cook over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add the seasoned shrimp and saute for about 3–5 minutes, until the shrimp is just firm.
To serve: Toast the tortillas on a dry skillet until the edges brown just slightly. Top with the blackened shrimp, pico de gallo or salsa, and avocado slices. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and fresh parsley to garnish.

Local Loquat Jam
Roughly the size and color of apricots with a similar flavor profile, the native Chinese loquat is Savannah’s “most underrated food,” according to Betty Bombers’ Patrick Zimmerman. Pluck them straight off the tree to make his bright, beautiful jam, bursting with antioxidants. Don’t have a loquat tree? Chances are your neighbors will be happy to share (you can thank them with the fruits of your labor).
RECIPE
Makes 4 cups
6 cups ripe loquats
Zest of 4 lemons, minced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 packet of fruit pectin (Sure-Jell works great!)
6 cups white sugar
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
Peel and pit freshly picked loquats, then toss immediately with the lemon zest and juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to retain the color. Add pectin and bring to a boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and ginger. Return fruit mixture to the heat and boil for one minute.
Skim any foam and film from the surface of the mixture and pour the jam into sterilized canning jars. Enjoy fresh, freeze or follow canning procedures.
Peppers and Okra
Equally tempting served hot, at room temperature or even cold, grilled peppers and okra are perfect for an impromptu picnic. They cook up fast and are an easy dish to add to your arsenal. No grill? No problem. Simply place on a rimmed baking sheet and broil — watchfully! — instead.
RECIPE
Serves 4
4 red, orange and/or yellow bell peppers 1/4 lb. fresh okra
2 tbsp. olive oil 1?2 tsp. salt
1/4  tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1/4  cup fresh parsley
Heat up the grill. Cut peppers lengthwise into quarters, discarding the stems and seeds. In a large bowl, toss quartered peppers with the okra, olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Place the okra and peppers (skin side up) onto the grill, cover, and cook for about five minutes. Turn the vegetables and cook for about 4 more minutes until the okra is tender and bright green and the peppers are slightly charred. Remove from heat and return to bowl. Toss with parsley and serve
Watermelon Lemonade
Cha Bella’s menu is always seasonal and local, and as often as possible, produce comes straight from the restaurant’s garden. This breezy cocktail features sweet and tart fresh fruit juices spiked with light rum — just add a tall glass and a straw to get your summer started.
RECIPE
Serves 1
2 lemons, juiced Pinch of sugar
2 oz. heirloom seedless watermelon, juiced
2 oz. light rum
Watermelon, sliced into thin wedges
Stir sugar and lemon juice together, then add all other ingredients and shake with ice. Pour into a tumbler and garnish with a watermelon wedge.
Shrimp and grits
When it comes to ingredients, the kitchen staff at Alligator Soul loves to go directly to
the source. Knowing where something came from and how fresh it really is helps keep the preparation basic and clean. Then, they’ll add one or two unexpected flavor combinations “to get your attention.”
RECIPE
Serves 4–6
4 cups chicken stock or broth (or water)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 lb. unsalted European-style butter
1 cup Georgia stone-ground grits
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 cup diced tasso ham
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano,
6 oz. grated mild to medium aged cheddar, plus more for garnish (optional)
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. minced shallot or yellow onion 1–2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
Creole spice blend, to taste
1 lemon wedge
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
Prepare the grits: Put chicken stock, cream and 4 tablespoons butter into a saucepan,
and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the grits and season with salt and pepper. Bring grits to a simmer, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add ham, and cook about
45 to 50 minutes, stirring often, until the grits are tender and thick. Stir in both cheeses, and season to taste if needed.
Prepare the shrimp: Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and shallots, and sweat briefly. Add shrimp, and sauté until just cooked through, about 2–3 minutes, then add minced garlic. Toss until fragrant, and deglaze with wine. Add Creole spice, lemon juice and cilantro or parsley to taste. Remove from heat and swirl in the remaining butter until just melted.

To serve: Divide grits among soup plates, and spoon on the shrimp and butter sauce. Sprinkle with green onions and, if desired, extra cheese.
Arugula salad
According to lifestyle expert and author Libbie Summers, summer cooking in the South is all about making an ordinary ingredient (like the earthy arugula in this salad) extraordinary, with simple additions like a drizzle of high-quality olive oil and a squeeze of a caramelized lemon. “The croutons add the perfect crunch,” Summers says, “and a good, hard, salty cheese makes everything right in the world.”
RECIPE
Serves 6
1 large piece of ciabatta with crust
1 large garlic clove, peeled 1?4 cup plus 3 tbsp. olive oil
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper 1 lemon
6 oz. arugula (preferably wild, 10 cups packed)
3 oz. aged Parmesan cheese, shaved into strips with vegetable peeler

Make croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Rub crust of bread with garlic clove and tear bread into medium-sized chunks. Place bread on baking sheet and toss with 1?4 cup olive oil and a heavy sprinkle of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer and bake until golden and crisp (about 10 minutes). Cool and set aside. Caramelize lemon: Cut lemon in half and place both halves flesh side down in a skillet over high heat. Cook until caramelized on the bottom.
Make salad: In a large mixing bowl, add arugula. Toss with juice from caramelized lemon and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 1?2 of the croutons and 1?2 of the Parmesan cheese and toss.
To serve: Transfer the salad to individual bowls or a serving bowl and add remaining Parmesan cheese and croutons over top.
More from Savannah Magazine

The Last White Christmas

For Mark Murphy, Savannah’s 1989 snowstorm was unforgettable — and bittersweet I...
Read More