Seafood Recipes

Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls

Creamy polenta, shrimp and vegetable bowls

Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls are an easy way to include seafood in your eating plan.

I love quick, delicious dinners, don’t you? These creamy polenta, shrimp, and vegetable bowls are easy enough to make on busy weeknights, and elegant enough for guests. That’s my kind of meal!

I first wrote this post in 2016. I recently changed the recipe and I wanted to make you aware of the improvements. I’ve also added tips for customizing these bowls depending on what ingredients you have on hand. I love polenta and shrimp, but if you want to use chicken or another type of seafood, that works, too!

Eat Seafood Twice a Week

Experts recommend eating at least two seafood meals weekly, and as many as three meals ( a total of 8-12 ounces) in a week’s time if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Seafood is rich in protein, healthy omega-3 fats that support heart and brain health, and other nutrients, including choline, which is often in short supply in the American diet.

Shrimp is one of Americans’ favorite types of seafood: we eat an average of nearly 4.5 pounds a year per person. (I’m pretty sure I am a top consumer!) Most of the shrimp we eat is imported, but shrimp is also harvested and sold in the U.S. As fish go, shrimp is considered one of the safest.

Frozen shrimp and other frozen seafood are useful to have on hand to make meal prep easier, but you can also use the fresh variety, too.  You can even make these creamy polenta, shrimp, and vegetable bowls with frozen shrimp and you don’t have to thaw it before cooking!

How to Make Whole Grain Creamy Polenta

Creamy polenta is a mixture of cornmeal, water, butter, and cheese. (I add some milk to mine to make it creamier.)  I prefer whole grain cornmeal for its taste and health benefits.

For this dish, you may want to use a medium or coarse-ground cornmeal; packages of cornmeal labeled as polenta are usually coarser grinds. You can substitute grits for cornmeal but you won’t get the same results or the same nutrition profile.

Customize your Creamy Polenta, Shrimp and Vegetable Bowl

I am not into fussy, precise recipes. In fact, I love recipes that people can change around to suit their needs and what’s in their pantry at the moment. Here are some tips for making do in the kitchen:

  • No spinach? Kale works well in this recipe, too. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure the bowls would be delicious with other greens, such as collard and beet, and with broccoli.
  • Canned, drained diced tomatoes can be swapped for the red bell pepper.
  • If you don’t have cornmeal in the house, or you don’t want to use it, swap pasta, farro, or rice. Farro is a whole grain, and whole wheat pasta and brown rice are, too. Any of the three will help you meet the suggested daily intake of at least three servings of whole grains a day.
  • Cooked chicken can take the place of shrimp. Polenta pairs well with chicken, meat, and seafood.

I‘m a big believer in using what you have on hand. Read this for how to make ingredient swaps that work. 


Creamy Polenta, Shrimp, and Vegetable Bowls

A simple, delicious meal in a bowl!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: highprotein, polentabowl, shrimpbowl
Servings: 4
Calories: 378kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large red bell peppers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 5 cups baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 cup whole grain cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup 1% low fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 16 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • fresh chopped chives for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Place water in medium saucepan over high heat. Cover.
  • Add oil to large skillet. Heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion, red bell pepper, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add the spinach and saute for another 3 minutes or until the spinach has just wilted. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and stir well. Remove from the heat.
  • When the water has boiled, slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the salt. Turn the heat to low and simmer the cornmeal, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the milk, cheese, and butter and stir until the butter is melted and the polenta is creamy. Cover and set aside.
  • Return the skillet to the medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is pink on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  • To serve, divide the polenta evenly between four bowls and top with the shrimp-vegetable mixture. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

Notes

Per serving: 378 calories, 16 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat), 210 milligrams cholesterol, 618 milligrams sodium, 30 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 31 grams protein, 653 milligrams potassium, 208 milligrams calcium 

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Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Cooking in aluminum foil packets is fun! We usually grill foil packets of meat, fish, and vegetables for summer meals, but you can bake fish in foil indoors, too. This easy baked fish in foil recipe makes it simpler to include seafood two times a week, and clean up is a breeze! 

Baked fish cooked in a foil packet topped with tomatoes next to roasted asparagus and two slices of whole wheat bread and butter.

Cooking in a foil packet keeps fish moist.

How to bake fish in foil in the oven

Foil packets, also known as foil parcels, help to keep fish moist when cooking. A foil packet seals in juices from the fish and the tomatoes, infusing this dish with great taste.

Canned tomatoes are a staple in my kitchen. They are convenient, nutritious, and delicious. You can use any type of diced canned tomato you like in this recipe, but I prefer fire-roasted for their intense flavor. I’ve also used two cups of fresh cherry tomatoes sliced in half in place of canned.

You can bake frozen fish in foil! 

Did you forget to take the fish out of the freezer? Not a problem. 

You can prepare this fish dish, and others, with frozen fish that you don’t have to thaw first! That’s good to know so that you can keep frozen fish fillets in the freezer for easy weeknight dinners.


I don’t always have the exact ingredients that recipes call for, and I’ve learned to improvise. Check out my tips for ingredient substitutions and swaps


Uncooked breaded fish fillets in baking pan pictured with canned diced tomatoes.

It’s possible to use frozen fish fillets and make prep even easier!

The health benefits of eating fish

Fish and other seafood contain omega-3 fats, which are associated with heart, eye, and brain health, and are particularly important during pregnancy and early life. Fish is also relatively high in protein for the calories, as long as you don’t fry it or smother it in fatty sauces.  For example, one serving of this fish dish supplies 24 grams of protein – nearly half of what many adults need in a day – for about 200 calories. 

Experts suggest that adults eat at least eight ounces of seafood a week; children need less. Pregnant and breastfeeding women require eight to 12 ounces of seafood weekly.  Most Americans, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, do not consume the suggested amount of seafood


It’s easy to include the suggested amount of seafood with easy fish recipes like this one for tuna burgers.


How to get your kids to eat more fish 

A child’s taste buds, and sense of smell, is much better than an adult’s, and certain foods can be overwhelming at first. Oily fish, such as salmon, may turn kids off because of its strong taste, and mild white fish, such as cod and haddock, are typically better for beginners. Adding vegetables, such as canned tomatoes or mild, yogurt-based sauces to fish dishes may also improve fish acceptance. 

Believe me, it hasn’t always been easy to get my kids to like fish, but all three of them loved this recipe from an early age. Be patient with children who turn their noses up to fish, or any other food.  Include fish on the menu on a regular basis and don’t badger them to eat it. They are more likely to come around to eating seafood when the pressure is off and they see you enjoying fish dishes! 


Read: Tips for getting kids to eat more seafood


Baking dish lined with aluminum foil with uncooked fish fillets topped with canned tomatoes.

Simple, delicious, and nutritious, baked fish in foil is the perfect weeknight dinner. 

Easy Baked Fish in Foil Recipe

Twenty five minutes is all it takes to make this tasty fish dish perfect for weeknight meals! 
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easydinnerrecipe, fishinfoil, foilpacket
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 202kcal
Author: ewardrd

Ingredients

  • 1 pound breaded cod, haddock or other white fish fillets
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400˚F. 
  • Line a medium baking dish with a sheet of foil big enough to make a packet, about 12 to 14 inches long. Place fish in the baking dish and top with tomatoes, olive oil, and parsley. 
  • Fold the sides of the foil inwards around the fish, and fold in the top and bottom of the foil. Pinch the foil closed to create a package.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until fish is flaky and opaque. When cooked, open the packet carefully to avoid spilling the juices. Serve immediately. 

Notes

Nutrition Information: Per serving: 202 calories; 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 54 milligrams cholesterol; 504 milligrams sodium; 7 grams carbohydrate; 0 grams fiber; 24 grams protein.
easy baked fish in foil recipe pinterest
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