Instead of dunking crusty, wheat-based bread into the deeply flavored stew, as is tradition, cubes of polenta are added at the last minute. The seafood can be varied by what you find in the market or to your own taste.
Gluten-free medium grind cornmeal, 6tablespoons (2oz/60g)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil, 2tablespoons
Yellow onion, 1 large, chopped
Fennel seeds, ½teaspoon crushed
Red pepper flakes, ¼teaspoon
Diced tomatoes with juices, 2cans (14.5oz/455g each)
Medium shrimp (31–35per pound), ½lb (250g), peeled and deveined
Bay scallops, ½lb (250g)
Fresh basil, ⅓cup (½oz/15g) slivered
In a medium microwave-proof bowl, combine 1½ cups (12 fl oz/375 ml) water and the cornmeal. Microwave at the high setting for 3 minutes. Stir well. Microwave at the high setting for 3 more minutes. Stir well. If the polenta is not thick, microwave at the high setting 1–2 minutes longer. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour out onto a small baking sheet or plate and spread to a rectangle ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Refrigerate until cool and set, at least 15 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel seeds, and pepper flakes and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, clam juice, wine, tomato paste, and orange zest and bring to a boil. Simmer until slightly thickened and the flavors develop, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the polenta into ½-inch (12-mm) cubes.
Increase the heat to high and add the clams and shrimp to the pot. Cover and boil until the clams start to open, about 4 minutes. Add the scallops and simmer until the shrimp and scallops are cooked through and the clams opened, about 2 minutes longer. Adjust the seasoning. Divide the stew among 4 warmed shallow bowls. Top with the polenta cubes, sprinkle with the basil, and serve right away.