I remember the first time we tasted polenta. Margaret Falcinella stirred up a giant kettle for a family affair. We were not blood family so had no idea what we were digging into: polenta topped with sausages and marinara sauce. It was so good I wanted to lick the plate. Everyone must have felt the same way because the giant kettle was scraped clean.
Polenta is a cooked coarse-grind corn meal, economical and easy to prepare. It is a wonderful way to add variety to your menus. Little ones gobble it and older ones regard it as gourmet.
Here is a way to enjoy polenta while including more greens in your diet. Use soup stock in place of the traditional water for cooking. All told, you end up a really nutritious dish. The recipe is inspired by a recipe in Greens, Glorious Greens, with a little adaptation to fit our own palates.
In the springtime, we use various wild greens in this dish — nettle and miner’s lettuce in particular. We also make use of the arugula that has taken over part of our property. (With the nettle we tend to saute it a bit before adding it, just to make sure to neutralize the stinging properties.)
Polenta can be served right from the kettle as you would mashed potatoes. You can top it with cheese or a sauce. Serve with meat or not. If you have leftovers, press the polenta into an oiled loaf pan, cover, and refrigerate (as is pictured here). To serve it a second time, slice the polenta in 1 inch thick slices. Fry in olive oil until it is crusty on both sides. Some consider this second round as the better of the two. You decide for yourself.
We especially enjoyed this polenta fried in squares and topped with grated Mozzarella. Italian sausages and a green salad finished the plate. It is memorable and pretty quick.
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A weedy salad. You may find ingredients growing in the cracks of your driveway :)
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