Monday, April 18, 2011

Meatless Monday: Polenta with Greens

Polenta has been a bit of a bone of contention in our house, I like it and the Boy doesn't.  To be fair I haven't made it very well the few times I have tried.  In the last little while we have ordered it out at a few restaurants and his view had changed, to the point that he said if you can make polenta like this I'll eat it.  Of course when he said it we were at Susur Lee's restaurant eating his Top Chef Master's dish.  Talk about setting a lofty goal for me.  But I took the challenge because polenta is a great whole grain option especially for Meatless Mondays.

About a year ago a bought a cookbook by Susan McKenna Grant called "Piano, Piano, Peino: Authentic Food from a Tuscan Farn" but have yet to cook anything out of it.  Beacuse of No ReEEATS I have been consulting my cookbooks alot more this year and have really enjoy not only using the books but learning different recipes and techniques from them.  Since I was challenged to make polenta as good as Susur Lee I know I'd need to go to a cookbook, and an authentic Tuscan one seemed like as good a place as any to start.  Since I was looking for a Meatless Monday dish when I saw a recipe for Polenta with Greens, I knew that it was what I wanted to make.  Because paired with a simple green salad it would (hopefully) make a tasty and pretty simple supper.

Polenta with Greens
from Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant
serves 4 to 6
printable recipe

1 onion - finely chopped
2 Tbsps butter
4 cups boiling water
1 cup cornmeal
5 oz finely chopped steamed greens - see method below
1 cup grated fontina (gruyere & parmigiano work well too)
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Bring water to a boil in a kettle or pot.  Heat another large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and saute the onion in the butter until it becomes translucent.  Add the boiling water to onions and then slowly stream in the cornmeal, whisking constantly until it absorbs and there are no lumps. Add the greens and stir well.
2. Replace the whisk with a wooden spoon and reduce the heat to low. Continue to stir fairly constantly, though you can take a break here and there to check on other things. Coarsely ground cornmeal will take about 45 minutes to cook through. When it is done it will pull away from the sides of the pot as you stir.
3. Stir in half the grated cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt & pepper. Stir the mixture until the cheese has melted and transfer to an oiled baking dish or sheet.  Top with remaining cheese.
4.  Bake until the cheese melts, about 15 minutes and then broil for 15 minutes until the cheese is golden. Serve hot.

Steamed Greens

1 bunch or greens - swiss chard, kale, beet greens, adult spinach

1. Clean away all tough stems and center ribs from the greens.  Rinse in water several times  until the water comes clean. Do not dry.
2.  Place damp greens into a large saute pan over medium heat, turning occasionally so the greens steam evenly.
3.  Once cooked down remove the greens to a colander and run under cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze all of the water out before adding to the polenta.

Lucky for me this dish was a complete hit with the boy.  He said he'd happily eat this again, of course if there was some meat involved, which I'm sure we can work out sometime soon.  It's great for leftovers too, which I love because I had lunch for a few days after this.


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