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Shrimp on Polenta Rounds with Sun-Dried Tomato Relish

It was one of those days. I needed some sort of dinner inspiration (read nudge) and feeling too lazy to leave the house (I had already been out), I leaned forward to inspect the contents of the fridge and noticed a jar of sun-dried tomatoes right at the back.  I usually keep these sort of condiments closer to the front…things in the back tend to get lost or worse, have gone past their expiry and start growing some interesting fungus within!   I had shrimp in the freezer and polenta (cornmeal) in the pantry.  These would go perfectly with sun-dried tomatoes but I needed to ‘spice’ up the tomatoes – just a bit.  Sun-dried tomato relish, of sorts, sprang to mind.  After surveying the contents of the refrigerator, I finally felt I had enough ingredients to pull it all together.

shrimp on polenta rounds with sun-dried tomato relish by The Culinary ChaseAs tempting as it might be to pick up store-bought polenta, consider making your own.  It is easily made and takes 20 to 30 minutes to cook.  When its finished, add butter, chopped herbs and cheese for optimum flavoring.  Pour polenta onto a greased plate and let cool.  When it’s cool, it’s ready and can be used as a base for pizza, cut into polenta fries, grilled etc.  Once you make it you’ll find it difficult to go back ready-made.  For more home made polenta recipes, click here.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side

8 to 12 medium-sized  shrimp, peeled and sautéed until pink and golden (keep warm)
firm polenta (already cooked), cut into rounds
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed), drained and chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
splash of olive oil
small shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes

  1. In a bowl combine relish ingredients. Allow to sit 15 to 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  2. Preheat broiler.
  3. Cut polenta into 3-inch rounds using a cookie cutter or the top of a glass. Spray olive oil on the top and bottom of each polenta round. Place on a baking tray and broil until tops are bubbling and starting to brown. Remove from Oven.
  4. Arrange a spoonful or so of sun-dried tomato relish on top of the polenta round topped with shrimp.  Drizzle with juice, if any, from the relish.

shrimp on polenta rounds by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  The relish ingredients are easily tweaked to suit your own palate.   Enjoy!

Baby Eggplant with Gruyère and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

baby eggplant with Gruyère & sun-dried tomatoes by The Culinary ChaseFor whatever the reason, I was having difficulty planning dinner last night.  My brain was all over the food road map!  So instead of trying to figure of what to have I decided on a tapas-style evening of little plates of food.  Tapas are appetizers enjoyed by the Spanish.  It allows for everyone at the table to enjoy conversing with one another rather than focusing on eating a whole meal.  I love this way of eating!  Eggplant and Gruyère go well together but add the sun-dried tomatoes and you have a simply delightful dish.  Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals.  The skin of the eggplant is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.  To learn more about this nightshade family of vegetables, visit WHFoods.

Serves 4
adapted from The Gardener & The Grill

4 small eggplants
sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Gruyère, shredded

seasoned baby eggplant

seasoned baby eggplant

Trim both ends off the eggplants. Cut into quarters (lengthwise) and salt. Place in a colander and let drain 30 minutes. Pat dry. In a bowl mix garlic, oil and oregano. Add eggplant and toss to combine making sure all sides are coated. Grill eggplant and turn each side until cooked (tender to touch), about 8 or so minutes. Arrange eggplant wedges on a platter, top with cheese and chopped tomatoes. Add a splash of olive oil and serve.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Oh my stars these were good!  The heat from the eggplant was just enough to help melt the Gruyère.  Enjoy!