Friday, November 4, 2011

Seared Polenta with a Zesty-Tomato and Shrimp Sauce

Ever tried polenta before? If you haven't, you are missing out. It's a great alternative to rice or pasta and it's very simple to make. You can pan fry it, bake it, or BBQ it. Make sure you spray your BBQ or pan really well with cooking spray, because each polenta circle is super-duper sticky. 

I happened to have all the ingredients for this recipe in my pantry/refrigerator, so I thought I would try it out on my family. So glad I did, because they loved it.  I've been very surprised that my kids pallets have become used to spicier foods. When I first introduced sauces that had a little heat to them, the kids didn't like them and would only eat a little bit. In the last couple months, I've been trying recipes that have cayenne, chipotle chile in adobe sauce, and red pepper flakes and have gotten no complaints. Serve this with Blueberry-Strawberry Spinach Salad.

**Adapted this recipe from San Gennaro Polenta recipes . Check out the original recipe here.

Polenta Recipe 
Serves: 4 Prep: 10 minutes  Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

2 TB olive oil, separated in recipe
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
28oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added, drained
1/2 tsp oregano, dried
1 LB (approx 31-35) shrimp, peeled and cooked, tails removed, thawed if frozen
1 16oz Polenta tube, sliced into 8 rounds
6 cups spinach, thinly sliced
parsley, chopped (optional)

1. Over medium heat, add 1 TB olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add crushed red pepper; stirring and cooking for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in shrimp and spinach . Cook for 2-3 more minutes until spinach has wilted. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
4. In a saute pan (I used a grill pan like this one ) spray with cooking spray and then add 1 TB oil over medium-high heat. Add polenta slices, and sear until golden brown on each side; about 5-7 minutes per side. Place polenta slices on plate, top with sauce. If you so desire, sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

 ~Make sauce ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use. 
~Slice Polenta ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?
 ~Instead of shrimp try this recipe with chicken, pork, beef or grilled salmon.
~Instead of crushed red pepper, use chipotle chili powder or add a little smoked paprika to the mix. 
~Chop up some cilantro instead of parsley.
~Sprinkle sauce with basil, thyme or rosemary instead of oregano.

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