Cheesey Polenta with Spring Asparagus

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serves 4

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus an additional swirl for garnish
4 garlic cloves, minced
2  cups yellow corn meal or polenta
8-10 cups water or chicken stock, depending how firm you like your polenta, and how much cheese you have (you will add liquid gradually as it cooks)
Leftover cheese! at least 4 ounces goat’s cheese plus remnants of parmesan, gouda, swiss, jack – whatever you have! Even cream cheese or yogurt is delicious. Never doubt a bit of blue cheese.
1 pound fresh asparagus
zest of 1 lemon (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Sauté the garlic and olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once the garlic imparts its flavor, add the polenta flour and stir. Add at least half the the water and mix thoroughly (a whisk can be good for this processes). Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat to low. As the polenta cooks and thickens, add water depending on the texture of polenta you prefer. I like mine pretty creamy, so I taste to my heart’s content, adding liquid as I go. When the polenta is nearly finished, add the cheeses, allowing them to melt deliciously into the polenta.  Season with salt and pepper as you like.

Cook the asparagus by steaming – or as I do: with an inch or two of water and a swirl of olive oil. As the water cooks down, the asparagus will “steam” to perfection. They should be bright and green with a healthy snap to it – limp asparagus is not delicious.

Serve the asparagus atop the polenta, and adorn with sea salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon zest.

 

 

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