Mediterranean Seafood Stew with Polenta Cubes
Instead of dunking crusty bread into the deeply flavored stew, as is tradition, cubes of polenta are added at the last minute to turn this dish into a gluten-free meal. The seafood can be varied by what you find in the market or to your own taste. Mussels and white fish, such as halibut or cod, are good alternatives to the shrimp, scallops and clams suggested here. The polenta takes only 5 minutes to cook, and then needs a minimum of 15 minutes to set up in the refrigerator, but even longer is better. If you have time, prepare the polenta the night before.
- 6 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g) gluten-free medium-grind cornmeal
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 cans (14 1/2 oz./455 g each) diced tomatoes with juices
- 2 bottles (8 fl. oz./250 ml each) clam juice
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) dry white wine
- 2 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 strips orange zest, each about 1 1/2 by 1/2 inches (4 cm by 12 mm)
- 2 lb. (1 kg) Manila clams
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) medium shrimp (31 to 35 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) bay scallops
- 1/3 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) fresh basil, slivered
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) water and the cornmeal. Microwave on the high setting for 3 minutes. Stir well. Microwave on the high setting for 3 minutes more. Stir well. If the polenta is not thick, microwave on the high setting 1 to 2 minutes longer. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour out onto a small baking sheet or plate and spread to a rectangle 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick. Refrigerate until cool and set, at least 15 minutes.
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, fennel seeds and pepper flakes and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, wine, tomato paste and orange zest and bring to a boil. Simmer until slightly thickened and the flavors develop, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the polenta into 1/2-inch (12-mm) cubes.
Increase the heat to high and add the clams and shrimp to the pot. Cover and boil until the clams start to open, about 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer until the shrimp and scallops are cooked through and the clams opened, about 2 minutes longer. Adjust the seasoning. Divide the stew among 4 warmed shallow bowls. Top with the polenta cubes, sprinkle with the basil and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free, by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen, 2013)