Grilled Shrimp with Polenta
Polenta, an Italian specialty now found on menus from coast to coast, is either served soft or cooled, then sliced and fried or baked. Chef Randy Windham’s recipe for soft polenta topped with pest-marinated grilled shrimp is comfort food elevated to a new level of flavor. For a hearty lunch or simple dinner menu, double the portions and accompany with a green salad, Italian country bread, and a dish of oil-cured black olives.
- Basil - 1 bunch, stemmed
- Garlic Cloves - 3
- Pine nuts - 1-1/2 tablespoons, toasted
- Salt - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Grated Parmesan Cheese - 1 cup (4 ounces)
- Olive Oil - 1 cup
- Shrimp - 20 large, peeled and deveined
- Cold Water - 2 cups
- Milk - 2 cups
- Polenta (coarse yellow cornmeal) - 1 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1/3 cup
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 1/2 cup
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Balsamic Vinegar - 1 tablespoon
- Basil-flavored Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese - 4 teaspoons
- Fresh Chives - 1 tablespoon, minced
To make the pesto: In a food processor, puree the basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and cheese until smooth. With the motor running, add oil in a slow, steady stream. Pour into a medium bowl, add the shrimp, and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To make the polenta: In a large, heavy saucepan, stir the water, milk, and cornmeal together. Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill the shrimp over medium coals for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Divide the polenta among four large flat-rimmed soup dishes. Place shrimp on top and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and flavored oil. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and chives.