Friday, August 19, 2011

More Than Just Polenta & Shrimp

As the storm clouds rolled in, I knew I wanted shrimp for dinner, but wasn't sure exactly how.  I thought of couscous, rice, pasta... all favorites, but I wanted something different.  I remember the package of polenta in the cabinet.  It has sat there for awhile now.  I have never made polenta and always seemed to find away to push it back for more familiar fare.  Not tonight, it was coming out front & center!

I poked around the fridge for ideas.  I grabbed some grape tomatoes, sharp cheddar, scallions, & bacon.  I cleaned the shrimp & stashed the shells in the freezer for future stock.  To clean shrimp, I use a fork.  I run one of the tines up the back and pull it thru the shell.  Then the shell can be easily peeled off.  It should also open up the back to be able to pull the vein out.  If not, just use a paring knife to gently cut into the back to get the vein. I tossed the shrimp in a sprinkling of salt & a generous helping of Valle del Sol Chili Powder (I won a free bottle of Whole Foods 365 spice last month) and set aside.

I started heating up the liquid for polenta.  I was going with a 4:1 ratio (I have since learned that 4:1 makes a polenta that will firm up for slicing and 6:1 will make a looser spoonable polenta).  I started 2.5c water & .5c fat free evaporated milk over med heat.  I added 1c of polenta to 1c of water.  I added s&p to both sets of liquids.

The grape tomatoes went onto a parchment lined baking sheet & drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt & pepper.  They went into a 350F oven to roast.  Then I sliced up half a package of bacon and started that in another pan.  The liquid was boiling by then so I added the water/polenta mixture and kept stirring till it thickened.  I continued cooking it, stirring often, for about 10 minutes on low heat.  I turned off the heat & mixed in a few handfuls of shredded cheddar.  I covered as I finished the rest of the meal.

While the bacon was still cooking, I chopped up about the top 3 thirds of the a bunch of scallions & stirred those into the polenta.  When the bacon finished cooking (I like it super crispy), I just grabbed it with my tongs and popped it right into the pot with the polenta - a little bacon grease can't hurt - and stirred it in & covered the pot.

The easiest and quickest for last.  I heated up the pan with a little olive oil.  In went the shrimp for about 3-4 minutes.  I turned off the heat and let the shrimp finish cooking with the residual heat from the pan.  And by then, the tomatoes were perfectly wrinkles and slightly charred.

A ladle full of beautifully yellow polenta topped with some of the grape tomatoes & shrimp was a perfect combination.  The scallions gave a nice mild onion flavor that went nice with the cheddar.  Of course the bacon was a delicious addition.  The roasted tomatoes gave little bursts of sweetness that balanced the spice of the chili powder on the shrimp.

The rest of the polenta is sitting in a loaf pan in the fridge firming up for slicing tomorrow - griddle cakes topped with roasted veggies!

Ess Eppis!


  1. Nice one Amy, now I'm really hungry! The polenta looks heavenly and thanks for sharing the ratios.

  2. In my opinion this looks like a delicious recipe and i think that it is not so difficult so i will try it very soon. I will post again after i will try it, thanks for sharing.