Polenta & Chicory

I’ve had a few chicory recipes that I’ve been wanting to try but I’d never been able to source the chicory. I started a subscription to Oddbox which delivers vegetables to your door that were otherwise unwanted and one week there was an add on for chicory. I fancied trying this recipe from Antonio Carluccio’s ‘The Collection’.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 chicories
  • 1 stock cube
  • 400g polenta (block)
  • salt and pepper

Method

1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic, chilli flakes and capers for 3 minutes.

2.) Add the chicory, 300ml water and the stock cube.

3.) Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) In the meantime, slice up the polenta and then in a frying pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the slices of polenta. Fry the slices until golden brown then flip over and do the other side.

5.) Serve the chicory with slices of the polenta.

Butternut Squash Polenta with Garlic Mushrooms

I feel like I’m on a bit of an Italian theme in my life at the moment. I’m going to Rome for the first time in a couple of weeks, I’ve made a reservation at a Michelin starred restaurant, ‘Per Me Giuloio Terrinoni’. I’ve started learning Italian. I’ve ordered an electric Fiat 500 and now I’m posting about polenta. Polenta would definitely be one of the options I would consider if I had to choose a last meal. I normally like it with a big chunk of butter, some salt and parmesan. However, with this great recipe in ‘Good Housekeeping’s Vegetarian Collection’, you roast some butternut squash, blitz it and mix it in with the polenta. This adds a lot of flavour to the polenta and then you can cut down on the high fat stuff and get an extra hidden vegetable in your meal. Buon appetito!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 small butternut squash (about 500g actual flesh)
  • 750ml stock
  • 175g quick cook polenta
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 400g mushrooms (I used one punnet shitake and one punnet normal mushrooms)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 150g baby spinach

Method

1.) Cook the squash, mine had some instructions on the packet for microwaving it so I microwaved it until soft, about 5 minutes.

2.) Blitz in a food processor or blender.

3.) Boil some water, add the polenta to the pan. Make up the stock, add the stock to the polenta and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and whisk it every now and again. When done, add the cream cheese and a pinch of salt. Press down some clingfilm on the top if you don’t want it to form a skin. (I don’t bother with this -I just give it a stir at the end and it tastes fine).

4.) Wash the mushrooms. Peel and finely dice the shallots and garlic cloves. Strip the thyme leaves from their sprigs.

5.) Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Cook for 6 – 7 minutes until soft. Add the rest of the oil, then add the mushrooms, garlic, thyme and cook for about 5 minutes. Place the spinach on top of the pan and leave for about 2 minutes until it wilts then stir into the mushroom mix.

6.) Dish up the polenta and top with some garlicky mushrooms.

POlenta bean bake

I looooove polenta and my normal method of preparation is to just throw in a ton of butter and cheese and stick some ragu on top. However, I came across a recipe in ‘Two Greedy Italians eat Italy’ and felt inspired to try a new take on it. The two greedy Italians in question are Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. Carluccio’s was one of the better food chains in the UK and Gennaro is Jamie Oliver’s bestie. I went to a food festival run by Jamie Oliver once and will never forget Gennaro being asked what his favourite vegetable was and responding with epic enthusiasm ‘Iiia laaaava brocolli’ – that was my attempt at transcribing the Italian accent. This is a great tasty recipe for vegetarians as the beans provide the much-needed protein. Using quick cook polenta would probably have been a bit easier but I couldn’t find any.

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

  • 2 tins haricot beans
  • spray oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 rashers plant based bacon
  • 15 cherry tomatoes
  • 500g ready prepared polenta
  • 1 tbsp chicken flavoured stock
  • 10g parsley
  • 80g parmesan/fontina
  • salt

Method

1.) Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C

2.) For the polenta, put the polenta in a pan and add 250ml boiling water and the stock powder. Simmer on a low heat for about 10 minutes.

3.) Peel and chop the carrot, leek and onion, chop up the stick of celery

4.) Fry the carrot, leek, onion and celery until soft.

5.) Chop up the fake bacon and add to the pan

6.) Slice the tomatoes in half and add to the pan with some salt. Cook until starting to break down.

7.) Grate the parmesan

8.) Mash up the polenta in the pan with a fork then use a whisk to combine the water and polenta. Add the cheese to the polenta.

9.) Drain the tins of beans and mix with the tomato mix.

10.) Chop up the parsley and add to the tomatoes and beans. Stir until all warmed through.

11.) Mix the tomato and bean mix with the polenta and pour the lot into a baking dish.

12.) Bake in the oven for 40 minutes. (My baking dish was quite deep but if it’s larger and more shallow, less time would be needed).