Monday, November 8, 2010

Polenta! with mushrooms, tomatoes, kale and spinach

Another 'something new' for me! Not only have I never had polenta, I've certainly never made it. In the spirit of trying new things, I'd bought some polenta cornmeal in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods a little while ago, so it was just waiting for me in the pantry. After reading up on making polenta and all of the stirring it can require, I ran across some articles and recipes talking about using a slow cooker to make it instead. So yesterday I threw it in the slow cooker for 7 hours, then put it in a greased loaf pan and stuck it in the fridge to be ready for dinner tonight.

Some quick facts about polenta: it's a great source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, thiamin and vitamin B6.

Here's the recipe I used for the slow cooker polenta. I don't know if there's a healthier version out there that doesn't use so much butter, but I figured for my first shot at this, I'm better off following a tried and true recipe I found:

Polenta Recipe

  • 3 TB melted butter
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 6 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups polenta cornmeal
  • 2 tsps salt
Grease the walls of the slow cooker with 1 TB of the butter. Measure remaining ingredients and add to the slow cooker. Stir well, cover and cook on low for 6 to 9 hours, stirring occasionally. Transfer polenta mixture to a greased loaf pan, chill thoroughly.

Kale, Spinach, Mushrooms & Sun-dried Tomatoes Saute Recipe 
serves 4

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 lb sliced crimini mushrooms
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach roughly chopped
  • 8 slices of polenta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
Heat 1 TB oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale and spinach and 1/4 cup water (or more if needed), cover and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

Heat remaining 1 TB oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer, working in batches if needed. Cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer polenta to a paper towel-lined plate as done.

Arrange polenta on plates, spoon mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve.

(This recipe was adapted from one by Whole Foods.)

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