This easy Shrimp and Polenta recipe is comfort food at it’s finest!
I mean, how can you beat plump, succulent shrimp sautéed in a Mediterranean inspired sauce all atop creamy parmesan polenta? It’s too good!
The next time you’re craving seafood, this is the recipe to make…
I have to tell you, I’m a big fan of shrimp and grits. It’s almost ridiculous. Of course there’s our favorite Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits. But we’ve also gone a little wacky with these creations:
- Greek Shrimp and Grits
- Pesto Shrimp and Grits
- Blackened Shrimp and Grits
- And even Surf & Turf Shrimp and Grits.
This time we wanted a little Italian theme. And naturally that meant swapping the grits for polenta!
Why You’ll LOVE Shrimp and Polenta
- Unbeatable Flavor Combo: The nutty, cheesy polenta serves as the perfect canvas for the decadent shrimp sauce. Each mouthful is a harmonious blend of comforting flavors.
- Quick & Easy: Despite its luxurious taste, this dish comes together in a snap! From start to finish, you’ll have a restaurant-quality meal on your table in about 30 minutes.
- Versatility: This recipe is perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, looking for a quick weeknight meal, or looking to impress a special someone, it’s a sure winner.
- Gourmet Experience at Home: Why go out to a fancy restaurant when you can create a dining experience that’s just as special at home? This dish is sure to bring in raves.
- Well Rounded: With protein, carbs and tomatoes, it’s a complete meal in itself. And as a bonus, it’s gluten free.
What is Polenta?
Polenta is a classic Italian dish made from coarsely ground cornmeal. Originally a peasant food, it has been embraced for its versatility and comforting texture.
When cooked in liquid, the cornmeal thickens into a creamy, porridge-like consistency. Often enriched with butter, cheese, or herbs, polenta can be enjoyed soft or allowed to set and then grilled or fried for a different texture.
What’s the Difference Between Polenta and Grits?
While polenta and grits are pretty similar, they each have their own unique characteristics that set them apart.
Polenta originates from Italy and is made from a type of corn called flint corn, which results in a granular texture. It is typically yellow in color.
On the other hand, grits are a staple in Southern U.S. cooking and are made from a softer type of corn called dent corn. This results in a smoother, creamier texture. Although yellow grits are available, they are usually white in color.
- Ground Polenta – The coarseness can vary, so check the cooking time on the package. We are using Bob’s Red Mill brand.
- Shrimp – Fresh, juicy shrimp serve as the protein in this dish, and their natural sweetness balances wonderfully with the spicy and tangy elements.
- Chicken Stock – Adds a rich depth of flavor to the polenta, and rounds out the shrimp sauce.
- Milk – The milk enhances the creamy texture of the polenta, making it lush and velvety.
- Parmesan Cheese – Adds a nutty and salty kick to the polenta. You can also try other hard cheeses like asiago or pecorino.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Used for sautéing the shrimp and creating the sauce.
- Garlic Cloves and Red Chili Flakes – These infuse the shrimp with bold flavors to make the dish irresistibly delicious.
- Cherry Tomatoes – Sweet and fresh.
- White Wine – Adds complexity and tanginess to the sauce, elevating it from simple to gourmet.
- Dried Thyme and Fresh Basil – To add an aromatic layer that complements both the shrimp and the polenta.
- Butter – A touch of butter at the end makes the shrimp sauce glossy and even more delectable.
How to Make Shrimp and Polenta
1. Cook the Polenta: Bring chicken stock and milk to a boil, then add in the ground polenta. Cook, stirring frequently, for the amount of time listed on the package.
2. Sauté the Shrimp: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
3. Cook the Aromatics and Tomatoes: Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, and once hot add the garlic and red chili flakes. Cook for 1 minute, then add in cherry tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes.
4. Create the Sauce: Add in wine, chicken broth, thyme and basil. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes.
5. Finish the Shrimp Sauce: Add shrimp and butter. Stir until well combined. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
6. Serve: Divide polenta into four bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with additional basil leaves and serve immediately.
- Shrimp Quality: Use good quality shrimp, as they are the star of the dish. If available, go with wild caught.
- Polenta Consistency: Keep an eye on the thickness of your polenta. If it gets too thick, a splash of milk or water can bring it back to creamy perfection. The key is to keep stirring for an even, lump-free texture.
- Garlic Timing: Be careful not to burn the garlic when you’re sautéing it. Burnt garlic can be bitter.
- Wine Quality: Use a decent white wine that you’d enjoy drinking. If it’s good in the glass, it’ll be great in your sauce.
- Fresh vs Dry Herbs: If you have fresh thyme, use 1 tablespoon in place of 1 teaspoon dried. Likewise, if you don’t have fresh basil, only use 1 teaspoon dried. Though we really recommend the fresh basil, it’s hard to beat!
What to Serve with Shrimp and Polenta
This Italian Shrimp and Grits is a well rounded meal on it’s own with protein, carbs and tomatoes. But it’s nice to have something on the side, especially if serving company.
And wine. Don’t forget that!
Leftovers and Storage
Store any leftovers separately, as they have different shelf lives. The shrimp mixture can refrigerate in an airtight container for a couple of days. The polenta lasts well up to five days in the fridge.
Reheat the shrimp mixture in the microwave, or on the stovetop. The polenta should be slowly reheated on stovetop on a fairly low temperature, along with some extra water, as they will have thickened up.
Give your next seafood night a little gourmet flair with our delectable shrimp and polenta recipe. It’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, yet amazing enough to wow guests.
Pin or bookmark this great recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Shrimp and Polenta, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup ground polenta
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped + more for garnish
- 2 Tbsp butter
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Combine milk and chicken broth in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
- Slowly stir in polenta. Return to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring frequently, until polenta is fully cooked. Refer to cooking time on package, as it can vary quite a bit depending on the coarseness of the polenta.
- Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese until melted. Note that the polent will thicken as it sits, you can always stir in a little water or milk if needed.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, then sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
- Add remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, and once hot add the garlic and red chili flakes. Cook for 1 minute, then add in cherry tomatoes. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add in wine, chicken broth, thyme and basil. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add shrimp and butter. Stir until well combined. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
- Divide polenta into four bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Garnish with additional basil leaves and serve immediately.
- For best flavor, use wild caught shrimp.
- Polenta is a type of ground cornmeal. If you can't find it, you can substitute it with grits.
- Keep an eye on the thickness of your polenta. If it gets too thick, a splash of milk or water can bring it back to creamy perfection. The key is to keep stirring for an even, lump-free texture.
- Be careful not to burn the garlic when you’re sautéing it with chili flakes. Burnt garlic can be bitter.
- Use a decent white wine that you’d enjoy drinking. If it’s good in the glass, it’ll be great in your sauce.
- If you have fresh thyme, use 1 tablespoon in place of 1 teaspoon dried. Likewise, if you don’t have fresh basil, only use 1 teaspoon dried.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 618Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 18gCholesterol 278mgSodium 1791mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 3gSugar 8gProtein 42g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Never miss a recipe!
Join the GypsyPlate mailing list and get easy dinner recipes right in your mailbox. From homestyle comfort food to exotic dishes from around the world.