I love polenta, but I feel like a lot of people I know aren't making polenta. After I had a kid and went to make polenta, I realized why. It's all the whisking. And 'pour in a steady stream while whisking.' Those words can make a cook stop right there before reading the rest of the recipe.

In the glory cooking days pre-baby, standing over the stove with a glass of wine in one hand and a whisk in the other seemed like a pretty great way to spend time because that indicates I had the time to stand over the stove and whisk for 20 minutes. So, I started to think of other grains and how a lot of them just need to be brought to a boil, then simmered on low. Even at a simmer polenta will stick and burn to the bottom of the pot. Then my brain got to quinoa and couscous and I wondered why that wouldn't work for polenta. Turns out it does. Do other people know about this and I'm the last to know?

And the polenta isn't even the best part of this dish. The rest of the dish comes together while you're polenta practically self-cooks and it's so crazy good we eat it at least every other week. While the Pacific Northwest girl in me would rather have the freshest shrimp around, the weekday mom in me prefers the frozen seafood mix bag from Trader Joe's. G and L liked the mix so mixed it is.

adapted from Mario Batali
~serves 3-4
5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
salt and pepper
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Seafood Ragout: 
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 yellow onion, about 1/4 cup, chopped or finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of chile flakes
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 lb mixed seafood (I bought the frozen mix from Trader Joe's and thawed before cooking) or shrimp
salt and pepper to taste
½ c dry white wine
¼ c water
zest from one lemon
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley, set aside 2 Tbs for garnish

For the polenta:
In a medium pot, boil the water and salt.
Pour the polenta into the boiling water while whisking and boil for roughly 3 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
Turn the heat off and place a tight-fitting lid for 30 minutes. 
After 30 minutes, check to see that all of the water has been absorbed. With a whisk or spoon, season with salt and pepper and olive oil. Keep warm.

While the polenta is resting/cooking, cook the ragout.
In a large saucepan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
Add the onions and cook until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add garlic, paprika, oregano and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomato paste has slightly darkened.
Add wine and water and cook for 1 minute.
Add the seafood mix, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the seafood is just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice and chopped parsley.

To serve, spoon polenta into a shallow bowl and scoop the seafood ragout on top. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve with wedges of lemon and extra chile flakes.


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