a few things before we move on to this recipe. polenta, is actually called cornmeal in jamaica and if we were in jamaica, this dish would be called turned cornmeal. polenta or cornmeal, whatever you may call it, has a reputation for being poor people's food, it's not a meal you'd cook to impress your dinner guests, in fact, to let anyone know that any of your meals for the day consisted of corn meal is to demonstrate that you are going through hard times. cornmeal was the dogs dinner, literally, it was usually cooked with water and fed to the dogs for dinner. i've always loved turned cornmeal, especially when it's cooked with coconut milk, garlic and herbs...specifically thyme and that is what i've captured in this recipe, it takes me back to my childhood, it reminds me of simpler times when i was just a skinny little thing with huge knee caps and not much else, running around barefooted on hot earth warmed by the sun, it reminds me of goat kids bouncing off hillsides, the lime tree that stood right in front of our house, walking to the river with my cousins, picking and eating oranges straight off the tree. i didn't come from privileged beginnings, in fact you could say we were poor, we had no running water, no indoor toilets, but that never bothered me, it never even occurred to me to be bothered by them, all i know was that i was happy, i had every thing i needed, love, great food and family...and great food...the food part is worth repeating because great food is is extremely important to me. i'll stop rambling and reminiscing now, check out the recipe down below. it's healthy, easy to make and easy on your pockets.
coconut polenta with cajun prawns and sauted spinach
for the polenta -
150 grams polenta
400 mls coconut milk
200 mls chicken stock or vegetable stock
3 to 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small shallot finely diced
1 clove of garlic finely diced
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
for the prawns -
225 grams de-shelled and deveined prawns
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning blend
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion granules (without salt)
50 mls water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp coconut blossom or brown sugar
salt to taste
for the spinach -
100 grams spinach
2 cloves garlic diced
1 small red onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil or rapeseed oil
in a mixing bowl combine the prawns, cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion granules, coconut blossoms/brown sugar and olive oil. stir well to distribute the seasonings.
heat a non stick pan over medium heat, transfer the prawns to the pan, being sure that each prawn is touching the surface of the pan. allow to cook for a minute without disturbance, however, do keep an eye on things. once the minute passes, turn the prawns unto their uncooked side using a tong (be careful not to scrape your pans surface as this will ruin the non stick coating thus leaving your pan useless), allow the prawns to cook for another minute undisturbed.
after the minute passes, remove the prawns from the pan and place in a dish to the side. turn the heat up to high add the water to the pan, using a wooden spoon to gently scrape all the seasoning from the bottom of the pan. this is the makings of your sauce. reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for a few minutes until reduced by half.
return the prawns to the pan and allow to simmer on low until the prawns are cooked through and the sauce is lovely and shiny, add salt to taste before removing from the heat.
gently heat the oil in a medium pan, add the garlic allow to cook until softened (not browned), add the sliced red onion and spinach and stir until spinach wilts down then remove from heat
heat the coconut oil in a medium pan over medium to high heat and gently cook the shallot and garlic until nice and soft, being careful not to colour them.
once the shallot and garlic are softened, add the sprigs of thyme and pour in the stock and coconut milk and allow it to come to a boil.
once boiling, grab a balloon whisk and start whisking continuously whilst slowly pouring the polenta into the pan.
allow the polenta to cook for another minute if you like it soft and another 2 minutes if you like it to be more firm.
remove the sticks from the sprigs of thyme, assemble and serve your bowl straight away