About a week ago, I got a note from the lovely Lis from La Mia Cucina inviting me to participate in La Festa al Fresco. Lis and the equally lovely Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice have created this foodie event featuring fresh summer food.
Lis writes on her blog:
Ivonne and I would like to celebrate the final days of another glorious summer with an outdoor feast [...] here's what we need: we need you to show up for the feast with a dish to contribute to the table. You can make anything you like as long as it features one fresh ingredient. Consider it a way to celebrate summer's bounty! The party is scheduled for September 5th so e-mail me email@example.com or Ivonne firstname.lastname@example.org with the link to your post featuring the dish you are sending over.How could I resist?
The resulting dish is a bit like late summer's parting kiss: the season's garden flavors of tomato, basil, and garlic; the sea-salty-yet-sweet firmness of fresh shrimp, and the hint of cooler weather to come in the rich and creamy polenta.
Not only is it delicious but it's easy to pull together. Dinner can be on the table in 35 minutes or so. There's one stipulation, however: this meal must be eaten outside with a good glass of wine or a lightly flavored beer. It's only fitting to soak up waning moments of summer while you can.
Shrimp with Tomato and Basil over Polenta
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails removed)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 teaspoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes in juice
palmful of fresh basil
1 lb prepared polenta (suggested: Melissa's Organic Italian Herb; follow package directions)
Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 4 teaspoons oil over high. Add shrimp; cook until opaque throughout, turning occasionally, 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
Make sauce: In the same skillet, reduce heat to medium, add remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes and their juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened and are saucy, about 15 minutes. (If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a bit of water, chicken stock or white wine.)
Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat polenta over a low to medium flame with water to create a mush. Chop basil roughly.
When sauce is ready, add shrimp and basil, seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary, and toss. Serve immediately over polenta, garnishing with basil leaves, if desired.