Saturday, October 2, 2010

friday - shrimp & spinach with polenta

This shrimp & polenta dish from is one of my favorite recipes for a quick and delicious meal. It's basically 4 main ingredients--frozen shrimp, a bunch (or a bag) of spinach, canned tomatoes, and a tube of polenta, all of which I usually have in my pantry, freezer, or fridge. As I recently mentioned, I've got armageddon-levels of canned tomatoes in my pantry, so that's what I used, but fresh tomatoes work well if you prefer. The original recipe calls for escarole, but I think spinach is easier to come by and works well in the dish. Any leafy greens could easily be substituted--kale would be nice and would make the meal even heartier. I love using prepared polenta (sold in a tube either in the pasta aisle or in the refrigerated section near the tofu in most supermarkets)--it's convenient, tasty, and a nice change from pasta or other grains. Plus, it's gluten-free, so if that's a concern in your family, it's definitely a nice staple to keep on hand. The original recipe calls for grilling the polenta--I broil mine, but either way you'll get polenta that's nice and crispy on the outside and creamy inside. This is a great way to prepare polenta and top with any sort of pasta sauce, but the sauce and shrimp in this dish are especially flavorful and are garnished with a few sliced olives. I'm lucky enough to have a jar of home-cured olives given to us by a friend (thanks, Brian!), but any sort of oil-cured olives would give the dish a nice salty finish.

Shrimp & Spinach with Polenta

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 14-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large bunch spinach, coarsely chopped, or 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach
1 16-ounce tube prepared plain polenta, sliced into 8 rounds
8 oil-cured olives, pitted and chopped

Preheat broiler to high.

Place oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is sizzling and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, shrimp, and oregano; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes are juicy and the shrimp are pink and curled, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and keep warm.

Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the polenta slices on the sheet and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray. Broil the polenta slices until hot and slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Divide the polenta and sauce among 4 bowls. Sprinkle with olives.

Makes 4 servings.


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