Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quick Weeknight Meal: Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta

Always on the search for an easy, yet tasty, dinner recipe, I came across this shrimp dish that looked like it was a quick, weeknight meal.  It was.  Tried it last night, and it took me roughly 30 minutes from the beginning to when we sat down to eat.  It was refreshing too because I have been making heavier, comfort-food type meals over the last few months.  The weather has finally started to warm up (60 degrees yesterday), and it was nice to have a filling, yet lighter, meal.

Shrimp and Pancetta on Polenta
(Courtesy of Ruth Cousineau, Gourmet, November 2009)

1/2 cup instant polenta (you could also use cous-cous instead)
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t. hot red pepper flakes
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes in their juice
1 lb. large raw shrimp, cleaned
1 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Make polenta according to package instructions.

Cook pancetta, garlic, and red pepper flakes in 2 T. olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is pale golden, 2-3 minutes.  (I used my trusty red Le Creuset Dutch oven...the pancetta creates a lot of splatter.)

Add tomatoes (with their juice) and simmer until the liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 6-8 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 3 minutes.  Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Spoon polenta into shallow bowls and top with shrimp mixture.  Drizzle with remaining 1 T. olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.

Note on the tomatoes: Upon the recommendation of my Aunt Nancy, I picked up some Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes with basil and garlic at Whole Foods for this recipe.  She raves about their tomato sauces so I thought I'd give these a try.  Since they are fire-roasted, they definitely added a really nice element to this dish, though any diced tomatoes will work here.  If you're curious about Muir Glen, here's the website:

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