Sunday, August 8, 2010

Grilled Polenta with Blue Cheese Cream Sauce, Spinach and White Beans

The best polenta is made slowly over a double boiler, but if you're strapped for options and for time, most will never be able to tell the difference between instant and the slow cooked. While most recipes call for water and a little bit of parmesan cheese, I use vegetable broth and a 'lot bit' of parmesan cheese. If you don't have time to make polenta and let it cool before making this dish, you may skip the grilling of the polenta squares, and serve it soft on a plate, with the vegetables and sauce.
My favorite part of this recipe though is the sauce made of blue cheese and rosemary. This makes the dish rich and delicious and this recipe has made the ranks of my comfort food, up there with pizza, mac 'n cheese, and fried eggs :)

Serves: 4
Takes about 30-40 minutes (depending on the polenta cooling time)

1 cup instant polenta
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
100 grams, of fresh or frozen spinach
1 can northern or white beans, drained and  rinsed
5 ounces good quality blue cheese
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper
olive oil
flour for dusting

1.) Start by making the polenta in advance, according to the directions on the type of polenta you've bought. Typically there is a 1:4 polenta to liquid ratio, and I like to get the broth boiling and slowly pour in the polenta whilst stirring. If possible, I also try to keep a lid partially on, because boiling polenta that hasn't thickened yet has a tendency to spatter.
2.) Once the polenta has thickened, spread it evenly onto a baking sheet, or in my case, a buttered cake tin.  Allow to cool in this shape so that it will be easier to cut, and later, grill.
3.) In a skillet, heat oil to medium and add the garlic and onions and fry until soft, which should only take a few minutes.
4.) Add the beans and the spinach. Or if using frozen spinach you can add that first and allow to thaw before adding the beans. Heat through, or until spinach has wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5.) Meanwhile, in another saucepan, crumble the cheese and add the cream and rosemary until cheese has melted. Season and remove from heat.
6.) With the polenta, cut squares or triangles and dip them into the flour, if you have semolina flour it's better because of the nice golden hue. Shake off the excess flour and grill the polenta in a small bit of olive oil until golden on either side.
7.) Serve the grilled polenta with the spinach and beans piled on and a generous portion of sauce.

I realize I haven't been labeling servings per recipe, nor cooking time. It's true that sometimes I make very small recipe versions, which renders only 2, or even 1 serving. I live alone and like to cook every day. (I also don't have a microwave, so reheating dishes often takes as much heating and energy as the initial cooking.) As much as I love leftovers, I don't love them the 3rd or 4th day, so I tend to reduce recipes to half. From now on, I'll do my best to make this more apparent!

Other things I realize I often do is switch between metric or European measurements and American measurements. Though I know think in terms of Celcius and kilometers, I still haven't figured out how the heck to cook with deciliters and grams, ounces, etc. Furthermore, I don't even own a measuring cup! My calculations are based on my Muumi coffee mugs, which I believe to hold about 3 deciliters (a little more than a cup) and that's what I 'measure' with. (don't be mad at me). Cooking is not a science, it is an art!

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