Karista's Kitchen Sauces, Salsas and More Seafood Shrimp vegetarian

Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

Spicy Pomodoro with Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp over Creamy Polenta

The Autumn fog has settled onto the valley landscape and created a halo of diffused light.  Intensifying the seasons colors and keeping just a little chill in the air.

This is the time of year I pull out the heavier throw blankets and roam the house in search of the warmer socks and slippers.  Most of them in various unmarked boxes since our move.

Even the dinner meals become spicier. Rich and flavorful tomato sauces lace the seasons dishes and create a welcome evening reprieve from the shorter and cooler days.

spicy tomato sauce with pan seared shrimp over polenta

Italian Inspired Spicy Pomodoro over Creamy Polenta

This beautiful dish was inspired not only by the season but by my recent visit to Italy.  While pouring through delicious pictures of the loveliest people, mouth-watering food and soul soothing landscape, I knew I needed a spicy pomodoro over creamy polenta this week; and shrimp would make a lovely addition.

If shrimp isn’t on your list of shellfish love, try serving this rich and satisfying sauce with roasted Autumn veggies.  It pairs well with roasted eggplant and zucchini as well as sautéed seasonal mushrooms.

Top with plenty of pecorino Toscana and you just might think you were dining in Italy.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


Spicy Pomodoro with Creamy Polenta

Serves 4


¼ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil (I use California Olive Ranch Arbosana)

½ cup finely chopped onion

2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Pinch or two of red pepper flakes  (I usually add about 1/4 teaspoon) (also a smoked chipotle powder is a fun substitution)

1  28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 – 2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar (if needed)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or ½ teaspoon dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste


In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions to the pan and sauté until golden.

Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté one minute longer.

Take the pan off the heat (or you’ll be splattered with crushed tomatoes) and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil.  Put the pan back on the heat and then bring the sauce to a very slow simmer.  Let it cook for about 15-30 minutes.  The longer the sauce cooks the richer the flavor.

Stir in the sugar if the sauce is too “bright”.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

Add pan seared or grilled shrimp directly to the sauce and let the shrimp swim in the sauce for a few minutes to absorb those delicious flavors and then serve over creamy polenta (recipe below).  Garnish with plenty of pecorino Toscana or parmesan.

Vegetarian:  Add roasted eggplant, red onions, zucchini, potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and anything else you think would be delicious.  Garnish with lots of cheese!

Creamy Polenta

3 cups whole or 2% milk

2/3 cup quick cooking polenta

¼ cup grated Pecorino Toscana or Parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the milk in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring as you bring it to a boil. While stirring, add the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and continue to keep the polenta at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the polenta has thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Lightly salt and pepper to taste.




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  • Reply
    October 25, 2013 at 12:43 am

    Wow! I am trying this next week! My hubby is turning 50, and loves shrimp. This recipe looks amazing, to say the least. Comforting, healthy and absolutely delicious! Thank you, Karista!

    • Reply
      October 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

      Thanks Kirsten. And Happy Birthday to your Hubby! Honestly I could eat my weight in this dish, with or without the shrimp. I’ve made it with roasted veggies and it’s just as delicious. Total comfort food but not hard on the health.

  • Reply
    October 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Looking damn fine, Karista, damn fine! So very delicious 🙂

    • Reply
      October 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      Awww… thanks Frugal. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    The creamy polenta sounds delicious.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Polenta, one of my fave comfort foods! 🙂

  • Reply
    kelley {mountain mama cooks}
    October 26, 2013 at 3:35 am

    Yum! I love polenta and am on a bit of a kick right now. I’ve made two recipes over the last few weeks using polenta. This is my kind of dinner!

    • Reply
      October 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Me too! I’ve made it several times the last few weeks. Wish I didn’t love it so much. One of my fave comfort foods. 🙂

  • Reply
    Bam's Kitchen (@bamskitchen)
    October 27, 2013 at 6:05 am

    I love your idea to serve with roasted veggies and lots of the kind of cheeses. I love your beautiful photos of your visit of Italy. Out of curiosity how many photos did you take while you were there. I”m sure it was just a couple…wink wink. Take Care, BAM

    • Reply
      October 27, 2013 at 5:08 pm

      LOL! I think I have over 1000 pictures BAM. I just couldn’t put my camera down. I wanted to remember everything. Hope you’re doing well! K

  • Reply
    Barb Bamber
    October 28, 2013 at 2:44 am

    I’ve been away far too long, Karista! I love your new look, well, new to me anyway! I can’t wait to take a look around. I’ve been wanting to make polenta for some time now and here you are with the perfect seasonal recipe. We’ve got lots of snow today.. so spicy is a great thing!xx

  • Reply
    October 28, 2013 at 4:48 am

    Delish!!! Love all the ingredients.
    We’ve had the most incredible fog. I was almost sad to see it lift.
    Happy fall:)

  • Reply
    Coco in the Kitchen
    October 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    What a comforting dish, Karista.
    Going to make a batch this week. Thanks!

    PS-I still have a couple of days left for my fall yarn wreath giveaway.
    It’s for a very good cause. Please spread the word.
    Here’s the link to my post:
    http://www.cocointhekitchen.com. Thanks! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Tandy | Lavender and Lime
    October 30, 2013 at 11:10 am

    I have just got back from Italy and this recipe is perfect to help me hang on to our memories 🙂

  • Reply
    October 30, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Karista you’ve just shared one of my dream dishes! My favorite local restaurant here (an Italian one!) serves polenta topped with an amazing red sauce, fried egg and lots of cheese. I’ve been wanting to do this at home and I’m going to make yours – it looks so delicious and comforting.

  • Reply
    Karen (Back Road Journal)
    November 3, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    This sounds like a very comforting meal for fall…I love polenta topped with a nice Italian red sauce.

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