Seafood Medley with Tomato-Butter Sauce and Soft Polenta
This recipe is loosely based on a Southern-style shrimp and grits. The flavors are simple and it's easy recipe to prepare, but it does take some time (although not all of it is hands on). We chose to oven-bake the polenta. This method requires very little attention, and the polenta seems to develop a richer corn flavor. We used a combination of mussels, shrimp, squid and scallops and cooked all but the mussels directly in the tomato-butter sauce. All you need to round out the meal is a tossed salad and a nice glass of wine.
- 2 lbs fresh mussels
- 3/4 lb large shrimp
- 3/4 lb squid
- 3/4 lb dry-packed sea scallops
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- For the polenta:
- 1 cup whole grain cornmeal (coarse grind)
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish, preferably one with a lid. Add the cornmeal, chicken broth, water, milk, butter and salt. Stir to combine slightly ~ don't be concerned if it separates, it will come together as it cooks. Cover and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes, until the polenta is creamy and smooth. Remove from the oven, cover and keep warm.
While the polenta is baking, clean the seafood. Rinse the mussels under cold water and trim any beards with kitchen shears. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Rinse the squid and remove the "cartilage" from the interior of the tubes. Separate the tentacles and slice the tubes into rings about 3/8-inch thick. Place the cleaned seafood in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Next, prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, stir to combine and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, keep warm, stirring occasionally, until ready to cook the seafood.
When the polenta is nearly done, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot with a steamer insert. Add the mussels, cover and cook until they have all opened. Remove from the heat, keep covered and set aside. Increase the heat on the tomato sauce to medium-high, wait until it begins to simmer, then add the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the shrimp begin turning opaque around the edges. Add the squid and continue cooking for 1 minute more. Add the scallops and butter, and continue to cook until the butter has melted and the seafood has cooked through. Total cooking time should be no more than 5 to 6 minutes.
To serve, spoon a serving of polenta into the bottom of 6 shallow bowls. Arrange a serving of mussels around the outside of each bowl, then spoon the seafood tomato mixture into the center. Top with chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings
The key to this dish is to be sure you don't overcook your seafood. It doesn't take long, so keep a close eye and have your polenta plated and ready to serve. If you have extra tomato sauce left over, freeze it and use it in a soup or pasta dish at a later date.