Shrimp and Polenta

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


Shrimp and Polenta topped with asparagus is a snap to make but also is a comforting and healthy dish reminiscent of shrimp and grits.


  • 4 and 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth (or use half water and half broth)
  • Salt
  • 1 lb. medium or large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail-on
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 6 oz. aged cheddar cheese
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 of a lemon cut into 4 wedges


  1. Pour the broth (or broth and water) into a large saucepan. Add ½ teaspoon of salt. Cover the pot and bring the broth to a boil over high heat.
  2. While the liquid is coming to a boil, in a medium bowl combine the cumin and cayenne. Add the shrimp and toss to evenly coat them in the seasoning.
  3. Trim the tough ends off of the asparagus and cut them into 2-inch pieces. Grate the cheese.
  4. Once the liquid has boiled, remove the pot from the heat. Start whisking as you add the cornmeal in a slow stream (the continuous whisking and slow-streaming prevents clumping). Put the pot over medium heat and stir until it comes to a simmer.
  5. Reduce heat to low and stir often for 5 minutes, until the polenta is thickened and has had a chance to cook.
  6. Remove from the heat. Add the cheddar and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Stir until it is thoroughly combined. Taste. I find that it usually needs about ¼ teaspoon more salt. Cover the pot and set it aside.
  7. Fill a kettle with water and put it on to boil.
  8. Warm the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. A moment after it has completely melted, add the asparagus and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Stir and cook until the asparagus turns bright green, 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add the shrimp. Stir and cook until the shrimp have turned pink all over, 3-5 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and asparagus to a serving bowl.
  10. Give your polenta a stir. If it’s gotten really thick or has begun to set add ¼ cup boiling water. Stir. Add a drizzle at a time, stirring after each addition until it’s back to a soft creamy texture.
  11. Scoop polenta onto plates, top with the shrimp and asparagus, and give everyone a wedge of lemon to squeeze over their plates.