For chilly days try polenta
Soul-satisfying dish is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner
Winter comfort: Polenta is one dish that runs the gamut. We offer a hearty breakfast idea as well as a lunch or dinner option to help tackle those wintery days. (Gabe Sachs/TMS Photo)
2 shallots, minced
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
7 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups instant polenta
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup favorite sun-dried tomato pesto (see below below) or your favorite pesto
Basil leaves for garnish (optional)
1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the shallots and the scallions for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened and just beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, being careful not to brown it.
2. Add the stock and bring to a fast boil on high heat. Using a liquid measuring cup, add the cornmeal very slowly in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Lower the heat and continue cooking, stirring all the time, for about 5 minutes, or until it is very thick, smooth and creamy. Add 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese and the mascarpone cheese and stir just until the cheese has melted into the polenta.
3. Spoon the polenta into shallow soup bowls and spoon on a large dollop of the pesto and the remaining 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Serve immediately.
Sun-dried tomato pesto
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained (reserve oil)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon reserved oil from tomatoes, or olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
With the motor running, add the garlic cloves to a food processor. Add the tomatoes, basil, oil, salt and pepper, and process until a thick paste is formed. If it is too thick, you may need to add a bit more oil. Place the pesto in a covered container and refrigerate. Add the cheese just before serving.