Welcome, Spring, with your bright grasses and budding leaves. Hello, RAIN! Love the new produce popping up from the earth, and evening cool enough to still enjoy a hearty meal.
The recipe requires a springtime vegetable – young, tender asparagus are perfect, but green beans, artichokes, fave beans could all be a good runner up. Everything else comes from you pantry (dried polenta, salt, pepper olive oil). And cheesey remnants – a great way to spring clean your fridge!
Polenta is so delicious, once you discover that it is most definitely not the pre-made stuff at the market. Make it yourself, with love! Garlic and herbs will brighten it up. Through in a chopped chili or sautéed shallots if your fridge has a few laying about. It’s a quick recipe that fills the belly, nourishes the body and gives a little spring to your step!
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.
My Cheesey Remnants!
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.