First time we had polenta was on our anniversary lunch. Few months back, we celebrated our first anniversary by taking a Wine Train ride through the vineyard in gorgeous Napa Valley. It was a beautiful bright sunny day. The ride was for about 3 hours and we were served with a delicious four-course meal.
We both enjoy eating different kind of cuisines and trying out new dishes. So, he decided to try the Coriander Breast Chicken with Wild Mushroom Polenta and Avocado sauce for his entree.
As he was trying his first bite of polenta, I was staring at his face hoping the lunch doesn't turn out to be a disaster.
It was a success.. he loved polenta. I immediately registered it in my mind that I have to figure out what this 'Polenta' is and may be.. just may be.. I would make it someday.
Arvind has this super faith in my cooking.. even after eating hard rock cookies, sugarless cake, disaster curry and god knows what not. I know, he is such a sweetheart and motivates me all the time.
I was freaking out while making polenta for the first time and just made sure that we have some food delivery menu handy.. just in case!
Polenta is made from boiled cornmeal which could be either white or yellow. Cooking polenta is not rocket science but there are some serious techniques to follow; like the ratio of water to polenta, stirring occasionally.. not too much or else it will become too sticky.. not too less or it will become hard. You have to serve it warm and re-heating polenta will not taste that good.
I wanted to keep the meal simple and so, decided to cook it with fresh sage to add that peppery flavor. Topped it with some pan fried peas and roasted some shrimp which added a lot of texture to the entire dish.
A simple flavor meal and what can I say.. Pasta is my favorite international dish and Polenta became my second favorite.
The left over shouldn't be heated but you can wrap it in a plastic and refrigerate it for few days. When ever you want to eat, cut it in pieces/slices and pan fry it or even grill it.
Polenta with Crispy Peas and Roasted Shrimp
For the roasted shrimp
- 12 shrimps (remove the head and keep the tail)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon chilly powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
For the pan fried peas
- 1 cup green peas
- 2 shallots (finely chopped)
For the polenta
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tbs finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 tbs butter
- ½ cup milk
- 4 cups water or broth (I used 2 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth)
- ½ cup cheese (I used asiago cheese)
- Start by cooking the polenta which will take about 30 minutes.
- In a deep pan, add water and broth and bring it to a boil.
- Now, with one hand, pour the polenta slowly to the pan and with the other hand, keep whisking. It's extremely important to follow this step else the polenta will form lumps. You could also whisk the polenta in cold water or broth and then, turn on the heat and start whisking.
- Add some salt and bring down the heat to low.
- Cover the pan and let it slow cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. If you think it's getting too thick, add some water and whisk to mix it properly.
- At the end, add the sage, milk and cheese.. give it a mix and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
- In the mean time, we can roast the shrimp and cook the peas.
- In a bowl, mix the shrimp with all the spices, salt and some oil. Let it rest for 15 minutes
- After 15 minutes, put them in skewers and roast it at 400F for about 10 to 15 minutes. The time may differ depending on the size of the shrimp.
- Once done, cover them with an aluminum foil to keep it warm.
- For the pan-fried peas, heat some oil in a pan.
- Add the shallots and saute for a while.
- Pour the peas, season with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Arranging the plate -- Pour the creamy polenta on a plate, add some peas and top it with some roasted shrimp.
- Finally, garnish with some more cheese and serve immediately.