Friday night I wanted comfort food, but it took a little effort to convince myself to actually make this comfort food. I decided to try a new polenta method, baking, since I had to turn the oven on to roast the beets (if I thought I could have gotten wilted greens via the oven I would have done that too). Unfortunately the beets took more time than I thought so we just ate wilted garlicy greens and polenta topped with gorgonzola – but when you got a bite with all three things it was oh so good. I was a little leery of the baked polenta, but it turned out just fine, if a little on the thinner than I’m used to. It was nice to just let the leftovers cool in the pan and stick that in the fridge. I used a bit of the leftover polenta in a breakfast scramble and it slide out of the pan nice and easy.
Polenta with gorgonzola and Garlicy Swiss Chard
baked polenta recipe from Everyday Food (and in the Great Food Fast cookbook) topped with diced gorgonzola
Garlicy Swiss Chard chronicled repeatedly here, but this provides good directions (ignoring the onions this time around)
Last fall I ate this dish for brunch. I was curious, if a bit dubious since I have a rocky relationship with eggs, but I’d read about egg and polenta for breakfast and I’d read about egg on a bed of cooked leafy greens so I decided to try it. I don’t remember being enamored of the dish, but I enjoyed it. This week I knew I wanted to make polenta to go with the bunch of kale; I never got around to purchasing blue cheese (one of my favorite combos) and this meal popped back into my memory. It was nagging me, “make me, make meee”. And so on Friday night, which turned out to not be date night after all, I made a half-recipe of polenta with butter and parmesan from The New Best Recipe – note even though you are having the recipe (3/4 c polenta and 3 c water), go ahead and use the 4 qt pan, I sort of splattered all over while I tried to gently pour the cornmeal into the pan. I also made some garlicy wilted greens with the lacinto kale I go this week and I tried poaching eggs for the first time ever. Surprisingly I got the timing almost perfect. First you start the water to boil, and prep the kale while you wait, then you add the polenta to the water and stir. When there are 10 minutes left on the polenta you start the pan for the kale. And at 5 minutes left you start the pan of water for the poached eggs. I actually removed the pan of polenta from the stove so I could move the egg pan to the front burner; so I could see letting the polenta sit for a few while you cook the eggs.
In retrospect, I’m not sure I really needed to add parmesan to the polenta – but cheese is one of my crutches for eating eggs so of course I decided to add the cheese. Also, I think if you poach eggs you want really good eggs. This week we have some fresh farm (pastured) eggs from a local farm. For a non-egg-lover I sure will go out of my way for good eggs of course then I sometimes think that they are “too good” to use for random baked goods; but really I like to buy pastured farm eggs for the sake of the chicken as much as the fact that it is a superior product (not to get too high horse on everyone, I do buy grocery store eggs when I can’t get ahold of local eggs).
101 Cookbooks Garlicky Greens (not quite what I did, but close – I like to add a few tablespoons of water to do a mix of saute and steaming)
I made a half recipe of the Bitter Greens with sour cherries using just kale and a wee bit of arugula (sadly most the bunch went south before I could use it and I salvaged what I could) and reheated my experimental frozen polenta.
Experimental frozen polenta? Well I made a batch of plain polenta as some point and had about two servings leftover, so I dumped it in a small square corningware dish and threw it in the fridge, figuring that I would grill it later in the week. But that never happened so I decided to see how it would fare if I froze it and grilled it at a later date. I removed it from the corningware, wrapped it in plastic, placed it in a labeled freezer ziplock and threw it in the fridge. I wasn’t thinking in advance and so when I went to make this polenta I put the bag in a bowlful of warm water to help thaw it. I had to change the water a couple times and flip the bag over. When I thought it was thawed I unwrapped the polenta and cut it into thick slices, oiled them and tossed them on a preheated cast-iron grill pan. The few remaining water crystals melted, when I went to flip the slices they either stuck to the pan, fell apart or did both. Wait, instead of sticking to the pan, the nice crispy crust stuck and the rest of the polenta slide onto the spatula. Eventually I gave up on pretty grilled polenta slices and dumped all the polenta I could get out of the grill pan into an oiled non-stick skillet and stirred it all up. Resulting in warm and yummy, but not very pretty polenta. It looks all lumpy, though it didn’t actually have a lumpy texture in your mouth. I think frozen leftover polenta has some potential but grilled slices isn’t the best reheating method.
Tonight I made another version of the Bitter Greens from Vegetable Heaven using the rest of my leafy greens and served it with polenta. I used the polenta recipe from TNBR and served it all hot and creamy, but I think it would have been excellent if I had the foresight to cook the polenta and pan-fry it. I started cooking the polenta at the same time that I started filling the sink with water to wash the greens and started cooking the onions about 10 or 15 minutes into cooking the polenta. I almost got everything done at the same time.
Bitter Greens with Sweet Onions and Sour Cherries from Vegetable Heaven
- half a bunch of swiss chard
- half a bunch of kale
- half a bunch of mustard greens
- whole (small) bunch of arugula
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1/2 cup of dried sour cherries
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- boiling water
- canola & olive oil
Slice the onion in quarters vertically and then in semi-thick slices. Pour enough boiling water to cover the dried cherries and let them soak. Wash and lightly spin all the greens, stripping them from the tough stems and roughly chopped them. I save the good parts of the swiss chard stems and chop them finely since chard stems are pretty and just don’t seem as tough as some other greens.
Heat up a nice large saute pan that has a lid to fit. Add almost a tablespoon of oil (mostly canola) and when it gets hot add the onions and chopped chard stems and well as some salt. After a couple minutes go ahead and cover the onions and let them cook for 10 minutes, stirring now and then. Drain the cherries and sprinkle with sugar. Add the chopped greens to the pan and cover again. You might have to add the greens in batches depending on your pan (I’d recommend adding the tougher greens first in this case). As soon as everything is beginning to wilt go ahead and add the cherries to the pan and give it a good stir then cover and let it cook a couple more minutes. You want your greens to be as brightly colored as possibly but still nice and wilty – it is a fine line between undercooked, just right and overcooked when you are dealing with greens IMO. Oh yes, and while I say stir, I actually find a set of tongs with nice scallops gripper bits is easier to work with than a spoon.
I thought that this dish was much better with the sour cherries than with the feta cheese. The polenta was also a nice accompaniment.