Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Polenta with Cheese and Spinach

There are few ingredients in this easy dish, but big flavor results.  Do make sure to buy polenta rather than corn grits - although both items are ground corn, polenta has a finer texture to it.  Also, for the best results, make sure to chop the spinach finely.

  • Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese
1. Heat a medium skillet coated with the olive oil cooking spray over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.  Add the spinach; cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Combine the water and chicken broth in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Gradually add the polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently - it will be quite thick by the end.  Remove from heat and stir in the wilted spinach mixture, salt, and black pepper.

3. Spoon the polenta mixture into a 9-inch springform pan coated with the olive oil cooking spray.  Press plastic wrap on the surface of the polenta and chill for 2 hours - it should be firm by the end.

4. Release the polenta from the springform pan and discard the plastic wrap; place on a baking sheet coated with the olive oil cooking spray.  Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the polenta and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  For the cheese, I highly recommend the shredded mozzarella from Daiya - it has a creaminess that mimics the flavor of Fontina, and works great for this recipe.

5. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then divide into 8 equal portions with a sharp knife.  This dish is best served immediately.

I served the polenta as a side dish, although it certainly could take center stage as your main course as well.  Because the dish has a rustic, simple feel to it, try it with similarly homey foods - for me tonight that meant grilled Match pork patties, and simple balsamic grilled asparagus: in a bowl, combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon vegan sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 2 minced garlic cloves.  Add 2 pounds trimmed asparagus and toss to combine.  Grill for 5 minutes, turning over about halfway through. 

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 wedge), Calories 126

Tasting Notes:
So savory and almost creamy - in fact, I would have thought this dish had butter in it, if I hadn't made it myself, between the soft creamy polenta and gooey melted cheese on top.  The spinach gave it just the right unexpected touch.


No comments:

Post a Comment