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How to Make Parmesan Polenta With Capers, Garlic, and Shrimp

Helena Ricketts is a freelance writer currently living in Indiana who loves writing about cooking.

Parmesan polenta with garlic, capers and shrimp paired with a warm kale salad

Parmesan polenta with garlic, capers and shrimp paired with a warm kale salad

Shrimp and Polenta Recipe

I visited Savannah, Georgia, a couple of years ago and stopped into a restaurant on the Savannah River that had shrimp and grits on the menu. I have eaten at least a thousand pounds of shrimp over my lifetime and had eaten grits but had never considered combining the two together. It was delicious. As you may have guessed from what I just told you, I'm from the northern part of the country.

After a recent craving for shrimp and grits and my unsuccessful attempt at acquiring grits that weren't instant, I decided to switch over to polenta. In my opinion, polenta and grits are not the same, but the two might be interchangeable with each other depending on your taste. I personally don't mind, but if I had access to real grits instead of the instant variety, my opinion may be different.

This recipe is the result of my craving for something that I ate on a beautiful starry evening beside the Savannah River. It's not the same, but it did the trick for quelling my craving for something different. The capers and garlic are a lovely combination of two of my favorite flavors. Paired with the creaminess of the polenta with an overtone of parmesan, it is a dish that I will be making again very soon.

I paired this with my quick warm kale salad, and the two complemented each other perfectly. The crunchiness of the salad was a very nice complement to the creaminess of the polenta. This is a great dinner for any time of the year, and if you can enjoy it with a riverside view, I highly recommend it.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

40 min

50 min

4 servings

The ingredients

The ingredients


  • 1 cup cornmeal, for polenta, the fresher the cornmeal the better
  • 4 cups chicken broth, for polenta
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for polenta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, for polenta, please do not use the powder canned stuff, it is not the same!
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, shelled, cleaned with tail removed
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, I used purple basil from last year's garden
  • 1 tablespoon basil, I used purple basil from last year's garden
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to your liking

Interesting Facts About Capers

  • The caper bush is also sometimes called the Flinder's rose.
  • Capers are flower buds.
  • They are used in culinary dishes after they have been pickled in brine.
  • Capers are usually seen in Mediterranean cuisine.
  • Caper leaves are an alternative to animal rennet in cheese making.
  • They contain a high amount of selenium, which is believed to prevent some forms of cancer.


  1. Make sure that you have chopped the garlic and shallot and cleaned your shrimp before you start making the polenta. I used a 5-quart pan to make my polenta. Pour the chicken broth into the pan and add 1 tablespoon of butter.
  2. Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Whisk the broth in a circular motion, following the outside of your pan with the whisk to create a whirlpool for 30 seconds. Slowly add the cornmeal in a steady stream. You do not want to add all of the cornmeal at once because if you do, your polenta will be lumpy instead of creamy.
  4. Once all of the cornmeal is whisked in you will want to turn the heat down to medium-low and continue slowly stirring with the whisk until the polenta starts to thicken.
  5. Once the polenta has become thick, turn the heat down to low and put the lid on your pan.
  6. Cook the polenta for approximately 25 minutes. The cook time will depend on how coarsely ground your cornmeal is. You will want to switch from the whisk to a spoon and stir the polenta every five minutes.
  7. Once it has become creamy and not gritty to the taste, you will want to pour in the parmesan cheese. Stir the cheese in so it will melt. Your polenta is now finished so you can put the lid back on and turn the heat completely off. It will keep warm for quite a while.
  8. To make the garlic, capers and shrimp, you'll need a frying, saute or iron skillet. I used a 10" iron skillet to make mine. Put the 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in the pan.
  9. Turn the heat onto medium. Once the butter has melted, add the shallot and cook it for a couple of minutes until it starts to soften.
  10. Add the garlic to the pan and stir. I overcooked the garlic a bit in my photos, you really do not want to brown it, you just want to soften it and infuse the flavor into the butter and olive oil.
  11. The rest of the recipe will go really fast because shrimp only takes a couple of minutes to cook. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook it for approximately 1 minute. It will start to have a pink hue to it.
  12. Add the capers and the basil to the pan. Stir it for a couple of minutes until the shrimp is cooked. You'll know that your shrimp is done when it turns pink.
  13. Put a couple of spoonfulls of polenta on the plate and top it with the shrimp. The butter and olive oil containing the shallot, garlic, capers and basil is then spooned over the top of the shrimp and polenta to complete the dish.
Heaven on a plate

Heaven on a plate