Tag Archive | polenta

Polenta with Leeks, Bell Peppers and Goat Cheese

So, I keep meaning to make a dessert for new recipe day, and then I keep eating too much junk/chips/cookies during the day to really justify making a dessert for my new recipe. Alas. On the plus side, this gave me another fun and exciting thing to do with leeks! I really love leeks, although I’m still working on finding new and exciting ways to cook them, especially in ways they aren’t overpowered by stronger flavors. So, since I had a leek, and I was searching for spring vegetables, I found this recipe, which I didn’t really adjust all that much.

1 leek, halved and sliced
1/2 bell pepper (any color, I used red), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches dried thyme
wine wine (maybe 3 tablespoons)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
olive oil

First step is making the polenta. Sauté the leek bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil. when they start to soften (5 minutes-ish) add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and a couple tablespoons of white wine (I never measure, just pour some direct from a bottle). Then saute until just shy of done. So, the original recipe said to stick the polenta on top of the veggies, but that really doesn’t work with the soft/fresh polenta. So, the best thing to do is stick the polenta in a small baking dish, with  the veggies on top, then the goat cheese and bake at 400 just until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

leek hash polenta

This turned out really well. My taste-related issue on my end was that I wish I had cooked the leeks for a little less time, but that’s about it. I had massive issues with the assembly, as I used too big of a baking dish, tried to spread soft polenta on top of the veggies, and then just sorta shoved the veggies to one side, the polenta on the other, sprinkled the whole thing with goat cheese, and baked it that way. But it tasted good. Song of the Week: Put on your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly! So for reasons I’m still not totally sure about, I started listening to this on repeat recently this week. But it’s a fun, cheerful, song and I do enjoy it so, why not?

Sunshine Polenta Casserole

Seriously, the weather in DC has been gorgeous for the last week or two. Warm, sunny but without the humidity that makes you die a little that happens in the summer. So I wanted to celebrate the sunshine a bit and have a sunshine-y meal. Naturally, this meant lots of yellow. I was considering lemon cupcakes, but instead I decided to make a casserole. So – I used yellow as my base – polenta – and yellow as my main veggie – yellow bell pepper. The result was very pretty.

sunshine casserole

Sunshine Polenta Casserole
3/4 cup polenta
2 1/4 cup water
1/3 yellow bell pepper, sliced
1/3 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried basil
gouda cheese, grated
olive oil

Boil the water with some salt. Add the polenta and boil, stirring constantly, making sure to get rid of any lumps that formed. Cook until soft and no longer grainy. Spread in a casserole dish and set aside. Toss the onion, bell pepper, and garlic with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture on top of the polenta. Then add the dried basil and the grated cheese. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes or until it starts turning golden. Serve warm.

Oh this was soo good. Fairly simple and easy to throw together, and the flavors all mesh well together. It tastes a little sweet and I think it is very sunshine-y, which of course was the goal. I had this with a Malbec-Syrah blend from Argentina. It might not be cold yet, but I’ve switched to red wine from white. Song of the week: Sunshine Superman by Donovan. I love Donovan; even though his quality is uneven at best his good stuff is gold. This isn’t actually my favorite Donovan song, but it seems particularly apt for the week.

A Taste of Summer in Winter: Polenta-Stuffed Bell Peppers

Have you ever accidentally bought an ingredient, forgot that you did, and then got more of it? I did that this past week with red bell peppers. Which I love, but there is only one of me, and there were 3 of them. So naturally this week, I needed to make a bell pepper-based recipe, and I was thinking stuffed, but i wasn’t sure with what. While I was at my neighborhood bar, reading and having a glass of wine, I realized that clearly it should be polenta. Everything just kinda fell into place after that. This is a fairly summer-y recipe but since the high was 25 degrees outside, I needed a little summer.

polenta bell pepper

2 large red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
3-4 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 onion, chopped
3-4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
grated strong cheese
olive oil

Cut the bell peppers in half, rub with olive oil, and roast at 400 for 20 minutes, or until they are soft, but still hold their shape. In the meantime, saute the onions and garlic and set aside. Boil the vegetable broth and add the polenta, stirring continuously and breaking up any lumps until it is thick and smooth. Add the onions, garlic, parsley, and tomatoes to the polenta and mix thoroughly. Fill the bell pepper halves with the polenta mixture, and top with a strong cheese – I used parrano. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted and ideally beginning to brown.

The result. Good stuff, man. Good stuff. A slightly more time-consuming recipe than a weekday night would prefer, but balanced, filling, and ripe for plenty of variations. I had this with a nice malbec, but it would go equally well with white wine I think. Don’t bother with beer for this one though, its better to go with wine. Song of the week: Pina Colada in a Pint Glass by Gaelic Storm. Meshes perfectly with my mood this week – even though I don’t like pina coladas. I really wish I was on a tropical island somewhere rather than in the icy/cold/snow right now too.

Polenta Pancakes: the Wonderful Result of a Severe Food Rut

Despite everything, some days I get into terrible food ruts. I can’t find anything interesting and new to try, and nothing sounds particularly appealing. Eventually, I just got fed up with myself (and kinda hungry) and decided to just start cooking and see what happens. I started with polenta, and then wanted to fry it, which lead to some trial and error ingredient additions. Then I tried putting some cheese and honey on it, and it was awesome. Super awesome. So here is the finished product of my random experimentation: Sweet and Savory Polenta Pancakes.

polenta pancakes

Step 1: The Polenta
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta/cornmeal
1/2 tablespoon honey

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil, and add the cornmeal or polenta. Stir constantly, making sure to break up any lumps that form, while the polenta thickens. When it is nearly done, add in the honey. Finish cooking until the polenta is thick, and doesn’t taste grainy. Stick in the fridge to cool.

Step 2: The pancakes
The polenta, cooled
1 egg
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Add the egg, flour, and baking powder to the polenta. Melt some butter in a frying pan, and plop the polenta and fry into pancakes. Warning, the polenta is still pretty soft, making the pancakes somewhat tricky to flip, so you don’t want to make them too big, or thick.

Step 3: The topping
1-2 ounces strong cheese

Once the pancakes are done, top with some intense shredded cheese and honey. I used Raclette, a French Alsace-region cheese, but anything in that family, gruyere, comte, etc. would likely work. Drizzle over with honey and serve warm.

The outcome is delicious. I made these for dinner, but they make a great breakfast as well, as I discovered with the leftovers. The nice thing about them is that they are both sweet and savory at the same time, a combination I adore. You can serve these with pretty much anything, wine, beer, tea, milk, etc. This is just a beautifully versatile dish. Song of the week: Only by Nine Inch Nails. I’m not a metal fan, but sometimes its nice to listen to something more hardcore, and this song strikes me as metal meets Talking Heads. Its’ good stuff, particularly the ramped up bass. 

Mexican Polenta (aka fusion)

As an American, I have few qualms bastardizing other countries’ cuisines or mashing separate ones together. We call it fusion. As a Californian (where much the food is some kind of fusion – its a side effect of diversity) I try to make that food as tasty as possible.  This past weekend it was actually warm – legitimately above 60 degrees warm – so naturally I wanted warm weather food, aka Californian food. Actually, I wanted Mexican food, but I’d tried most of the recipes in my various cookbooks already. Naturally, the combination of flipping through the Greens cookbook and talking to my dad ended with a solution: mexican-style veggies on polenta.

mexican polenta

2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta/cornmeal

Take the vegetable broth and bring it to a boil. Add the polenta. Boil until the cornmeal is all soft and cooked, and no longer grainy. Then pour it into an 8X8 pan and let it cool.

1/3 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
Shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, any Mexican cheese)

Saute the garlic in some olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper. After a couple minutes, add the zucchini. I’ve been told that adding zucchini to Mexican dishes is super Californian, but hey, California was a part of Mexico and zucchinis (and yellow squash) are native to Mexico. So I refuse to think of it as inauthentic. If you want to go further, corn is also native to the Americas, but I feel that’s stretching it a bit. Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste and saute until the veggies are tender.

Once the veggies are done, pour them over the now-cooled polenta. On top of the veggies, scatter about 2 -3 ounces of grated cheese. I used cheddar, but monterey jack or a Mexican cheese such as queso fresco would also work. Bake the whole thing at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is all melted and bubbly. Top with salsa and serve.

The result was totally delicious. Simple and yummy and (this sounds silly) tastes like summer. Of course the corn works with the mex-veggies, and the time in the oven prevents anything from getting soggy. Zucchini often makes things soggy, so this is important. It is also a very complete meal in it of itself – although if you want to serve it with chips and salsa I completely support that. I served this with white wine, but generally Mexican  food is best with a solid beer or tequila. My favorite is Bell’s Oberon Summer Wheat beer, but that doesn’t come out for another month sadly. Finally, the songs of the week are “Criminal” by Fiona Apple and “Smile” by Lily Allen. Awesome songs by female artists. Fiona Apple owns herself and her sexuality without being all “male-gaze” based – which is seriously impressive to pull off, especially in the music industry. Lily Allen has the most positive sounding songs with “holy shit, seriously?” lyrics. Honorable mention: “So What” by P!nk.