Last night, I informed Mr. Onepot that we were about to order Chinese.  Then, out of some poorly defined but quite persistent guilt, I found myself preparing the following:

Polenta+spinach+black bean strata

  • 3 cups water + 1 cup milk
  • 1.25 cup polenta
  • .5 large onion
  • 1 can black beans
  • .5 lb spinach (fresh, in this case, but surely frozen would also do)
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 380F.
  2. Bring the water and milk to a boil.  (Remember that milk will trick you into thinking it’s nowhere near boiling, and then, in less than a second, puff up to an obscene height and spill all over your stove top.  So, sorry to say, you will have to babysit this just a bit.)
  3. Once it boils, stir in the polenta and salt.  Turn the heat down to low and cook for another 4-5 minutes, stirring only occasionally.  (This you don’t have to babysit!  I’ve never understood why people complain about the intense attention polenta requires.  In the Old Country, we treat it roughly and it turns out just fine.)
  4. While the milk+water are heating up, start sauteing the onion.  Once it’s soft and happy, add the beans along with a touch of their liquid.  Season ever so generously with paprika and cayenne pepper.
  5. After the beans and onions have had, say, 5 minutes to get to know each other, turn the heat off, toss the spinach on top of them, and cover.  The residual heat will cause the spinach to wilt just a touch, making it more manageable.
  6. In an altogether unrelated bowl (oh, this is so not a one-pot dish), beat the egg and combine with the yogurt.
  7. Layer!  First the polenta, then the beany and spinachy mix, and finally the yogurty egg.
  8. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes.

(…In the end, I was so very glad we hadn’t ordered Chinese.)

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Let’s transition ever so gently into this upcoming week that threatens to hold me responsible for getting up at the rude hour of 8:00 7:00, putting on a grown-up outfit, and actually getting some work done.  How about something both righteously wholesome and just a touch decadent on this last day of this most delicious of breaks, to make the transition bearable…

Polenta rounds with prosciutto, goat cheese, and onion+pepper relish

  • 1 polenta log
  • 5-6 strips prosciutto
  • as much goat cheese as you’d like
  • a tablespoon or two of pepper+onion relish, or something else along similar lines of zappiness
  • fresh dill

You can guess the rest: layer it all in the way that pleases your heart and pop it into the oven for 10 minutes or so at 375F.  And look how perfectly your creation will nestle against a salad of mixed greens and garbanzo beans!

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I originally bought these mini pumpkins just for their good looks.  But one evening late last week, when faced with a cauldron of polenta and a sudden urge to stuff something with it, I found myself eyeing the pumpkin arrangement.   Once I reached in, there was no turning back.

If you, too, are tempted to violate your pumpkin centerpiece, here’s what to do:

  1. Wash, de-stem, and de-seed the pumpkins.
  2. Coat the exposed flesh with olive oil and herbs.
  3. Bake the pumpkins at 375F for  ~30 minutes at 375F.
  4. Fill them with polenta.  (… Or mashed potatoes!  Surely that would be amazing.)

Baked polenta flapjacks

October 23, 2009

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Polenta leftovers?  What a good problem to have.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Dump the polenta onto an oiled baking surface and flatten it.  A rolling pin works well for this, but so would a spoon or a hand.  (Don’t get too carried away here; fatter–not flatter!–is better.)
  3. Shape it into circles with an upside-down glass.
  4. Bake for ~20 minutes.
  5. Broil on high for another 2-3 minutes, until golden.

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Ah, polenta…  Transforming water and yellow dust into bowlfuls of pure joy in less than 15 minutes is nothing short of magic.

Today, because it’s raw out and I need all the comfort I can get, we will go with a slightly decadent version:

  • 1 cup of polenta (the coarsely ground kind; the finely ground version will turn into caulk if prepared like this)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto
  • 1 walnut-size piece of chevre
  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Stir in the polenta.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and let your polenta rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the pesto and cheese.

Eat it alone!  Or perhaps you’d rather try it with a poached egg and some vegetables?  Or with salmon?  (This last one will really impress that snooty friend, I promise.)