Our friend Dorrie and her beau Daniel are visiting from Boston. Dorrie is off to Italy next week. Time to cook Italian! (Like I need an excuse!)

The farthest south she will be is Milan/Verona/Venice, so we thought a Venetian/seafood dinner was in order.

Northern Italy is definitely European, and Southern Italy is Mediterranean.  The food really does reflect the regions – like grits down South, beef in Nebraska, and fusion in California.

Polenta and seafood were my goal – Venetian food in honor of the fact that one year ago we were dining on the Grand Canal, ourselves. I broke out my trusty La Cucina Italiana magazines and went to work.

I saw an idea for a scallop and shrimp stew of sorts and knew I could play with it. And play, I did!

Shrimp and Scallops with Polenta

  • 1 lb scallops
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 6 tomatoes, rough-chopped
  • 2 cups broth
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs – basil, oregano, parsley…
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • flour for dusting scallops.

Lightly dust scallops in flour seasoned with salt and pepper.

Add olive oil and a pat of butter to a large skillet. Brown scallops and remove from pan. Add onion and red pepper and saute until onion is translucent. Add garlic and quickly saute.

Add broth, tomatoes, and saffron and bring to a boil. Simmer about 10 minutes and allow liquid to reduce a bit.

Add shrimp and cook about 3-4 minutes or until barely cooked through. Add scallops and continue cooking until scallops are cooked through.

Add fresh herbs and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve over cheesy polenta.


Cheesy Polenta

  • 1 cup polenta (I use Adluh grits from South Carolina!)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup shredded provolone cheese
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Bring milk to boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat and add butter and seasonings.

Slowly stir in polenta. Cook, occasionally stirring, about 40 minutes or according to package instructions. Stir in cheese and continue cooking until creamy.

Of course, we had to have some appetizers before the main course!


We started with a roasted vegetable salsa – Extremely simple to make and really fun and flavorful.

Green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, green pepper, and onion, grilled and chopped. I added olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, fresh chopped herbs, and a bit of S&P.


And then a caponata because I already had an eggplant. It”s Sicilian. So shoot me.


  • 1 medium eggplant cut into cubes
  • 1 medium onion,  roughly chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped green olives
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh herbs – basil, mint, oregano
  • 2 tsp sugar

Fry eggplant in olive oil until cooked. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion and celery to pan and cook until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes and cook until slightly thickened. Add eggplant back in and cook until everything is blended together.

Add remaining ingredients and heat through.

Serve barely cold or at room temperature.

We also had roasted red and hot peppers…




We went with both figs and peaches for dessert. They were both too good to choose one over the other.

We made more Fresh Ricotta  and broiled peach and fig halves with a bit of demerara sugar. We then drizzled a bit of honey on top and scattered them with pistachios.

We had a blast.