Friday, May 3, 2013

Baked Cheese Polenta with Swiss Chard

About a week ago, I made polenta the quick way (i.e. sliced from a tube) on a busy night. Tonight I had the time to more properly make a homemade version from whole-grain yellow cornmeal.  Be sure to rinse your chard leaves thoroughly before chopping for this recipe, to remove all the sand and dirt.

For the chard:
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard (about 1 and 1/2 pounds)*
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons water
For the polenta:
  • 1 and 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 ounces prepared vegan goat cheese**
  • 3 tablespoon vegan Parmesan sprinkles (such as Galaxy Foods)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
1. To prepare the chard, remove the stems and discard. Separate the leaves from the tough center ribs.  Chop the ribs and coarsely chop the leaves.

2. Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the chopped ribs and 2 tablespoons water; cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the leaves; cover and cook an additional 5 to 6 minutes, until wilted.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta: combine 1 and 3/4 cups water in a saucepan with the salt and broth.  Gradually add the cornmeal, stirring with a whisk.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thick but still soft.  Stir in the goat cheese and Parmesan.

4. Spoon half of the polenta into a 2-quart (11x7-inch) baking dish coated with cooking spray, spreading to the edges.

5. Top with the chard mixture.

7. Spoon the sour cream over the chard, spreading into an even layer.  Quickly add the remaining polenta (before it has time to set) and spread to the edges. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let stand for 5 minutes before dividing into 6 portions.

Round out your meal with bread and a salad. Tonight I had focaccia from Bread Alone, and lovely little cherry tomatoes in bottled vinaigrette.

*I love the look of red chard, so normally prefer it over green, and that's what I used tonight. However, you might consider green chard since the red stems bleed a little during cooking, as you can see in some of my photos here.

**To prepare the goat cheese, combine 2 ounces crumbled vegan feta (such as Veg Cuisine), 1 tablespoon Tofutti cream cheese, 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream, and a splash of lemon juice; mash with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (about 1 cup), Calories 169

Tasting Notes:
Certainly a great way to eat your leafy greens, but I was a little disappointed in this dish. The chard is tender but bland, and would benefit either from baked tofu crumbles or Tofurky sausage crumbles stirred in. Another option would be to use the cheeses in the chard mixture, rather than in the polenta, where I couldn't really taste either the goat cheese mixture or Parmesan sprinkles. The sour cream layer was also hard to discern, so I'd just leave it out. Definite potential here, but play around with it to take it up a notch.


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