Ciao! Back from a week in the Dominican Republic where I had limited WIFI access (a blessing and a curse). Although I’m glad to be home, I can’t help but prefer the balmy Caribbean climate to New York’s wintry chill. As such, I’m craving foods that are comforting, but not too heavy. This Polenta con Ragu’ di Gamberi fits the bill perfectly. Buon appetito!
Polenta con Ragu’ di Gamberi
From the Kitchen of Majella Home Cooking
This is a quick variation of a classic dish from the Adriatic coastal villages outside of Trieste. The traditional recipe calls for a long-simmered seafood stew spooned over slow-cooked polenta. This weeknight version calls for a quick shrimp ragout and instant polenta.
Serves 6 as a first course or 4 as a main course
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup quick-cooking (instant) polenta
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, chopped
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (Optional)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine combined with ¼ cup of water
- 1-1½ pounds peeled and deveined large or jumbo shrimp cut into one-inch pieces (I’d recommend 1½ lbs depending on the size of your diners’ appetites. One pound didn’t do it for my family of 2 adults and 3 shrimp-loving little boys!)
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil with the sugar. Whisk in the polenta in a thin steady stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. (The texture of the polenta should be very soft.) Remove from the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the polenta and cover to keep warm.
In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and crushed red pepper, if using, and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly carmelized, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and water and simmer over medium high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Spoon polenta in shallow bowls and spoon the shrimp and sauce over and around the polenta. Serve immediately. Buon appetito!