If you are thinking this is a play on shrimp and grits, you are right! When I think of polenta I equate to more of an Italian dish. I love how versatile it is. I have made appetizers with it, main dishes, sides, and even dessert. This creamy version with spicy, garlicky shrimp on top was quick, easy, and satisfying. It makes the perfect lunch or dinner. Great for this fall nights ahead.
When working with polenta know that it can’t sit to long because then it becomes hard. You will be able to slice it! While you can make the polenta before the shrimp, make sure to not let it sit for beyond a couple of minutes. Also pay attention to taste. You may prefer a little more salt added, or even cream cheese. Polenta is really a blank canvas which makes it pair well with so many things!
When looking for polenta in the grocery store I have seen it two different ways. In the form of grain and already cooked solid in a tube like package. For this recipe you want to use the grain form. If you want a little bit more liquid with your shrimp I suggest adding a little bit of chicken stock as opposed to water. If you do so, make sure you adjust the seasoning to your liking. You may have to add a bit more red pepper paste, or salt.
In large sauce pot bring the water, wine, and salt to a boil. Add in the polenta and stir. Bring down to a simmer and keep stirring every couple of minutes for about 25 minutes so it doesn't stick to the pan.
After 25 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until well incorporated. Add the fresh chives and mix through.
In a large saute pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the chopped garlic and saute for about two minutes. Then add in the onions saute about 3 minutes more.
Add in the red pepper paste and stir it with the onions and garlic. Pat the shrimp dry then add it to the pan.
Saute the shrimp, turning them, until they turn pink on each side. This takes 3-5 minutes. Once they are pink add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Give the pan a toss or a stir.
Remove from the heat. Place polenta in the bottom of a shallow bowl, then top with shrimp mixture. You can also layer fresh spinach on top of the polenta before adding the shrimp. The spinach will wilt a bit under the shrimp.