Polenta Squares with Garlic Shrimp and Spinach Pesto are the perfect appetizer! Really easy to make, combined Italian flavors in a delicious bite.
Yesterday I have received a postcard!
I haven’t received one in ages. I used to send them to our parents from places we were traveling to with a good thought. It was great! Why did I stop?
My brothers’ in law were in Rome for a couple of days and they wanted to let us know how much they would have loved us to be there with them. In a postcard. No text. No FaceTime. Just brings back those back to basic things. Sometimes we just speed too much through life and although I love this new social media part, it is so nice to receive a hand written postcard.
Just curious, do you still send/ receive postcards?
This postcard brought back memories of beautiful places and treasured snippets from my Italian trips. And, of course one of them is related to those unforgettable Italian feasts.
Talking about feasts, for today I made Polenta Squares with Garlic Shrimp and Spinach Pesto.
It cannot get more Italian than this.
I made this appetizer inspired by the southern Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Was really interesting reading about it.
Some believe that each fish represents a day of the week, but most traditions come from the observance of the Cena della Vigil (the dinner of the vigil), the wait for the birth of Christ in which early Christians fasted on Christmas Eve.
While the tradition is to eat 7 different fish, some households in southern Italy actually eat 9 or even 12 fish instead (for the apostles). The feast usually goes on for hours, with one fabulous seafood dish following another.
My Polenta Squares with Garlic Shrimp and Spinach Pesto would be the perfect start of the feast! It is really easy to make, as you can imagine and celebrates all Italian flavors in a small bite. You can make polenta and spinach pesto the day before serving it. Just cook the shrimp before your guests arrive and you are set 🙂
- Polenta Squares
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup coarse polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- Garlic Shrimp/ Prawn
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 lb (500g) raw shrimp/ prawn, peeled and deveined, tails off
- salt and pepper
- Spinach Pesto
- 2 cups baby spinach
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- juice from ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan
- salt and pepper
- Make polenta. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring water to a simmer. Add coarse polenta to the saucepan, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk until polenta begins to thicken. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer until very thick, for 20-30 minutes. Add butter and parmesan cheese and stir to melt and incorporate. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.
- Line a rectangular/ square pan with baking paper and pour in polenta Smooth the top with a spatula and allow to cool to room temperature, then place it in the fridge covered.
- When ready to bake and serve, remove from the fridge and preheat oven to 350F/ 180C. Lift out polenta slab using baking paper as a handle. Using a large knife slice into 24 to 30 squares. Place them on a pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, just until warmed through.
- Prepare Spinach Pesto
- In the bowl of a food processor, add spinach leaves, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add ⅓ cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate, tightly covered, until ready to use. Just before serving it, stir in parmesan cheese.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add shrimp/ prawn and cook until pink and cooked through for almost 4 minutes.Transfer to plate.
- Assembling the squares to serve. Lay warmed polenta squares on a large platter. Spoon 1 teaspoon spinach pesto over each square and spread as desired. Top each square with 1garlic shrimp/ prawn. Serve warm or at room temperature.