I promised you a recipe from the Cafe Firenze Cookbook, by Fabio Viviani and Jacapo Falleni, so here we go. This is an antipasto in Fabio's cookbook, but use more prawns, and it's dinner!
(I am paraphrasing the directions for each part of the dish.)
Jumbo Shrimp (I used 8 large shrimp)
4 oz. crumbled sharp gorgonzola
1/2 c. corn syrup
8 thin slices of pancetta
1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar
Peel prawns, leaving tail on. Devein them, and cut open the backs with a sharp knife., cutting from head to tail. Season with freshly ground pepper. Using you hands, press some of the crumbled gorgonzola into the shape (Fabio says, "like a little bug") to fit in the opening of the shrimp, pressing it into the cut. Wrap each filled shrimp with a slice of pancetta, squeezing it together to stay in place. Put wrapped shrimp back in the fridge to chill. Grill shrimp until pancetta is crisp and shrimp are done (about 5 minutes on a hot grill).
Balsamic Syrup: Place balsamic into saucepan, and reduce to half. Add corn syrup and cook for another 5 minutes, and let it cool.
1 lb. baby spinach
3 cloves of garlic, smashed with side of knife (remove after cooking)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
Heat oil and add garlic until brown (3-4 min.), add spinachand stir until wilted but not mushy. Season with salt and pepper. Heat again just before plating.
1 c. polenta
1 c. cream and 1 c. milk (you can lighten this with milk and water, or just 2 c. water)
1 T. chopped herbs of your choice (rosemary or sage or both)
salt and pepper
4 oz. grated parmesan
4 T. butter (optional)
Saute herbs in butter for 5-6 minutes. Add milk and cream (or water), and bring to a simmer, add polenta, and reduce heat to low. Stir until creamy but still firm. Add parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
I received a surprise treat of some luscious figs from Nancy, so we threw a few (cut in half and brushed with olive oil) on the grill next to the shrimp. Perfect sweet treat with the dish!
I did not salt the shrimp, as we try to reduce salt if possible. The gorgonzola and pancetta added enough salt for us.
The first time I made this polenta, I followed the directions exactly as written. It was deliciously rich, buttery and creamy. This time, I lightened it a bit by using half the butter, and low fat milk for the liquid. Add a little extra liquid if you like your polenta looser. I always use regular polenta, never the instant stuff, as I think the texture and flavor are better.
Spinach: I used one 6 oz. bag of baby spinach for two servings.