I can hardly believe the rain that California is getting right now! I am feeling a sort of camaraderie with the other wonderful states in our nation. Often times, as a Californian, I can sort of feel like the black sheep when it comes to the seasons…or at least the shorts-wearing, suntanned-legged, odd-man-out state that cannot commiserate with the rest of the country who is burdened by blizzards or being wrung out like a soaking wet towel. It’s actually pretty hilarious watching us all right now. We closely resemble ants in the heat of summer when you splash some water on them and total chaos ensues, with the usual routines turning all helter skelter. FUNNY! We suddenly forget how to drive, and we begin to sound incoherent as we feel “burdened” by more than one day in a row of being “stuck” indoors. I find myself repeatedly reminding myself that the folks in Washington and Oregon wouldn’t even deign to call this “rain” and would laugh at our activity adjustments designed to keep us out of the wet!
Regardless of whether or not our weather is even something to “write home about,” I think we could all do with a little warm comfort food for our bellies. Something quick and satisfying, that has us joining around the table and lighting a few candles. So, whether you are trapped in a blizzard, or just a Californian shaken by some rain, here is a yummy recipe from our kitchen to yours that will spice up your midweek meals and bring on a major dose of the cozies.
What I love about this recipe is that it brings a little bit of summer into the kitchen in the midst of winter. Instead of relying on fresh tomatoes, fat and warmed by the sun, it uses sun-dried tomatoes that can be found in your pantry. Cooked in their oils, and softened with onions, it makes a great base for a diavolo sauce. As is softens, you loosen it with some broth, and then give it a whirl in a blender or with an emersion stick until smooth.
The sauce will be thick, so just loosen it with some more broth, if needed. Then, add in your uncooked shrimp. I like to use raw shrimp here, so that they stay succulent as they take on the flavor of the sauce they are cooked in. I absolutely hate rubbery, overcooked shrimp! You can substitute in chicken or sausage with this dish, as well. However, I love the shrimp as a great weeknight option because they will cook in the sauce in just minutes. Once they pink-up, they are done!
Obviously, you can serve this over noodles in a heartbeat, but I love the warm comfort of soft polenta. The best part is how easy it is to make! Start by bringing 5 cups of water to a boil, then slowly sprinkle in one cup of cornmeal while whisking continuously. Turn the heat down to low, and clap on a lid. You can let it simmer while you prep the sauce. It can stay on low for 20-40 minutes (aka very forgiving as long as you give it an occasional stir), so it’s best to get it going at the beginning of the process even though I’m bringing it up now LOL. Before serving, mix in a 1/2 cup of cream, a 1/2 cup of parmesan, a teaspoon of salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Et viola!
To serve, I just piled soft polenta on a plate, topped it with my sauced shrimp and then garnished with some feta, pine nuts, and some freshly chopped parsley. I love the creamy, salty, and spicy deliciousness of this dish. I hope it brings you some great mealtime memories! There is nothing like good food and some togetherness around a table when it’s blah outside!
- 2 lbs raw shrimp, tails removed
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes + the oil they are stored in
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 7 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cups broth
- 1 tsp red chili flakes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped for garnish
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup pinenuts (optional)
- FOR THE POLENTA
- 5 cups water
- 1 cup corn meal
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Start by bringing 5 cups of water to a boil, then slowly sprinkle in one cup of cornmeal while whisking continuously. Turn the heat down to low, and clap on a lid. You can let it simmer while you prep the sauce. It can stay on low for 20-40 minutes, giving it the occasional stir.
Add your sun-dried tomatoes, marinating oil, garlic, and chopped onion to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until softened.
Stir in the red wine, broth, red chili flakes, and salt. Cook until the sound-dried tomatoes become even softer as they rehydrate, about 5-10 minutes. Then, using an emersion blender or blender, whirl the tomato mixture until smooth.
Return sauce to the skillet and add in the uncooked shrimp. Cook for 5 minutes until the shrimp are nice and pink. Then stir in the chopped parsley.
Returning to your awaiting polenta, stir in the cream, parmesan, salt and pepper. If you feel like it has become to thick, feel free to add a little water (about a 1/4 cup at a time).
To serve, pile the polenta on a plate, top with the sauced shrimp and then garnish with feta, pine nuts, and some more parsley. Enjoy hot.