Sometimes, when I make dinner and I’m trying something new, I make sure we have eggs or cereal on standby in case it doesn’t turn out so great. It’s happened before and I’m sure it’ll happen many times again. So goes the way of things for a curious foodie.
This dish was one of those times. I feel like I see polenta everywhere and everyone I know seems to love it. Until now, I had never had it nor attempted to make it. I know it’s a pretty healthy component to a meal, so I wanted to give a try to see if it was something we could add to our dinner repertoire. And guess what? It was actually really good!
Polenta is made from ground cornmeal. It is gluten-free (if that’s your thing), a whole grain, low in calories, and full of vitamins A and C. It is a healthy/smart carb source. And, most important, it’s yummy.
I feel like I should mention, though, that it is a bit on the bland side, so adding flavors is a MUST. I wouldn’t just whip up a batch and eat it as is. It needs cheese and butter. I know that doesn’t sound healthy, but if you make 80-90% of the meal healthy, you can splurge a little on cheese and butter. I do now have a bag of polenta so I am looking for more ways to use it. A friend of mine suggested making a batch and spreading it out on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate until solid and then cut it out and grill it. She also mentioned it is delish topped with grilled veggies or even tomato sauce.
I used Bob’s Mill polenta, which is not an “instant polenta” so I don’t know about those measurements, but what for what I used it was a ratio of 1 cup polenta to 4 cups of water and it ends up making about 3 cups prepared polenta.
This dish is a bit of a twist on the southern classic shrimp and grits because grits are very similar to polenta. I love using the scallops, but they are a bit pricey, so this isn’t something we can have often, unfortunately.
Pumpkin Polenta with Seared Scallops and Sage Brown Butter
½ can pumpkin puree (15 oz can)
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
8 scallops, cleaned and dried
Salt and pepper
½ stick unsalted butter
For the polenta: Make it according to package directions, then add the cheese, butter, pumpkin, and salt and pepper to taste.
For the scallops: make sure they are clean and dry (so they sear) and season with a little salt and pepper and garlic powder. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat up the olive oil (just enough to coat the pan) and saute your scallops until opaque. About 5 minutes per side.
For the sage brown butter: remove the scallops from the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the butter and sage. I used dried sage because my store was out of the fresh and I didn’t feel like driving around looking for it. Use minced fresh sage, if you have it. Let the butter melt and cook in the pan. It will start to brown pretty quickly, so don’t walk away. Turn the heat off when it is browned.
Send any polenta ideas my way, please!