Herb Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Polenta

I decided to make these lovely grilled shrimp for dinner the other night with no idea what to serve with them.  I hadn’t been to the grocery store, I had no veggies in the fridge and the squirrels and bunnies had eaten what was left of our garden.  All I had was shrimp.  I walked into the pantry, saw a giant jar of cornmeal and knew exactly what to do.

I recently fell in love with polenta.  It’s made with cornmeal, your liquid of choice and whatever else you want to throw in it.  It has a consistency between mashed potatoes and grits.  Cornmeal is a staple I always have in my pantry, so polenta has become an easy back up side dish.  Cornmeal itself is pretty bland, but will take on the flavors you add to it.  I’ve made it creamy, like in the recipe below, used chicken stock and herbs, added brie or goat cheese, exotic spices…the possibilities are endless.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of this recipe.  Besides the fresh herbs, most of the ingredients are probably already in your fridge or pantry.  Making it is easier than it looks too.  Start with marinating the shrimp.  Throw the ingredients for the marinade in a big bowl, mix together, toss in the shrimp and you’re done.  Let it sit while you get the polenta ready.

Time to cook the shrimp.  I picked up some cooling racks from Crate and Barrel and have used them for much more than their intended purpose.  I initially purchased them to use in the oven (paired with a baking sheet) for ‘oven frying’ chicken, then John put them on the grill and they became perfect for grilling shrimp, veggies or anything that might slip between the cracks.  If you decide to use a cooling rack you already own, be sure it’s not coated in plastic.  That would be bad.  Otherwise a grill pan will work or simply put the shrimp on skewers.  2 minutes on each side should do it.

To plate, start with the polenta, top with some shrimp and sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley.  It’s a beautiful, tasty and (bonus) healthy dinner.
Herb Grilled Shrimp with Creamy Polenta
Recipe Type: main dish
Prep time: 1 hour 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 2 hours
Serves: 6
  • 2 lb large shrimp (21-30 count), peeled and deviened
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 T fresh basil, minced
  • 3 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 c low fat milk
  • 2 c water
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 c corn meal
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Combine the garlic, onion, parsley, basil, thyme, mustards, salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss until evenly coated. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
  2. While the shrimp is marinating, begin the polenta.
  3. Bring the water, milk and butter to a boil over medium high heat. Add salt. While whisking, slowly add the corn meal. Continue to whisk for 3 to 4 minutes to prevent clumping.
  4. Turn the heat down to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes, partially covered, stirring every 10 minutes.
  5. Add in the Parmesan cheese and thyme. Add salt as needed. If polenta is too thick, add extra milk until desired consistency is reached.
  6. The polenta can remain on the stove top for up to 20 minutes on warm covered while the shrimp is being cooked.
  7. To cook the shrimp, place a grill pan on your grill and heat to 350 degrees. Place shrimp in grill pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side until pink and opaque.
  8. To serve, place polenta in a dish and top with shrimp. Sprinkle with fresh parsley as a garnish.

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!

Comments: 4

  1. biz319 September 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm Reply

    I am making this for dinner tonight for our date night in – I am pairing it down for 2 people, but I think I’ll make all of the polenta – its awesome leftover – thanks for the recipe!

    • Christy September 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm Reply

      I love date night in!

  2. Casey September 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm Reply

    Thinking of making this for my inlaws 40th wedding anniversary. Does it seem “fancy” enough to please on a special occasion?

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