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Herb Shrimp on Polenta on a black plate 5
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5 from 14 votes

Shrimp and Polenta

Treat yourself to summer comfort food - shrimp and polenta. Plump shrimp, smothered in a fresh herb lemon garlic dressing, and served over creamy cheesy Polenta. Quick and easy with a good shortcut.
Prep Time6 mins
Cook Time9 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings (change as needed): 3 main dish
Author: Cheryl



  • 1 pound (450g) shrimp, shelled and deveined, Note 1
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or half oil, half butter)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Herb Dressing

  • 1/2 cup (30g) fresh herbs, packed eg parsley, basil, tarragon, chives, oregano, cilantro and/or dill
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon minced or grated garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 lemon (zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon -1/2 red pepper flakes for spicy shrimp (optional)
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil (or a bit less if preferred)

Instant Polenta, Note 2

  • 2 1/2 cup (335ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup (80g) instant Polenta/Cornmeal (1 minute or quick cooking polenta)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup (90g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • MAKE HERB DRESSING: Finely chop herbs and green onions. Stir together with other dressing ingredients except oil. Slowly whisk in oil. Alternatively (I do this): put all herb dressing ingredients in a processor and pulse to blend well. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • MAKE POLENTA: Follow directions on package. I use 1/2 cup instant Polenta (for 2-3 servings) plus 2 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (Typically: boil water and salt. Stir in Polenta slowly, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low. Cook for a minute or two until thickened.) Remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmesan cheese. If too thick, add a bit more water and stir. Polenta should be creamy, smooth and loose. It will thicken more on standing. Cover and keep warm. Note 2 to make regular polenta.
  • SAUTE SHRIMP: Rinse and pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Make sure they are dry. Heat oil (or oil-butter combination) in non-stick pan to medium high until sizzling. Add shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes, turn over, then saute for another 1-3 minutes, depending on size of shrimp. Don't overcook. They're done when they are just turning opaque (pink or white). TURN OFF HEAT. Add herb dressing and stir to coat.
  • SERVE: Rewarm polenta if needed on medium-high heat, adding a bit of water if needed. Stir rapidly until smooth again. Spoon Polenta into bowls or plates. Top with shrimp and serve.


  1. Shrimp:
    • I use small white Pacific or wild Argentine shrimp from Costco for this recipe (90-130 count or 30-50), but medium would be fine too. Even large are OK, cut in half. 
    • For medium or large shrimp, you can roast them at 425F/218C for 5-7 minutes depending on the size, instead of pan frying them if you prefer.
  2. To make regular polenta (not instant): Here's a recipe for Parmesan Polenta. It will take 30-40 minutes. 
  3. Make Ahead: 
    • The herb dressing can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for a day or two. (It will lose it's bright green color though)
    • The Polenta can be made a couple of hours ahead. Just add some water and reheat on medium high, stirring, until it becomes soft and smooth again.
Nutritional values are estimates. To reduce calories, reduce amount of Parmesan cheese or skip the polenta altogether. 
Calories: 664kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 26g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 406mg | Sodium: 2053mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1250IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 440mg | Iron: 5mg