Saffron Polenta With Sauteed Vegetables
5 Cups of spring or filtered water
1/2 Cup yellow cornmeal
21/2 Cups yellow corn grits
Pinch of sea salt
2 to 3 Teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Teaspoon saffron threads
1 to 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 Cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Yellow onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
6 to 8 Cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 Small fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush to the bulb and bulb thinly sliced
1 Carrot, cut into fine matchstick pieces
1/2 Cup mirin or white wine
3 Fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1 Small bunch of broccoli rabe, finely cut
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, shredded
To make the polenta: Whisk together the water, cornmeal, grits, salt,oil and saffron in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium low heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the center of the polenta bubbles and pops, about 35 minutes. Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled, shallow dish and set aside until firm , about 1 hour.
To make the vegetables: Place the oil, garlic and onion in a wok or skillet over medium heat. When the vegetables begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and saute until the mushrooms release their juices into the pan. Stir in the fennel, carrot and a pinch of salt and saute for 1 minute. Add the mirin and tomatoes, cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are quite soft, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and add broccoli rabe on top. Cover and cook until the rabe is bright green. Remove the cover and simmer until any remaining cooking liquid has been absorbed into the vegetables. Remove from heat and stir in shredded basil.
To serve, either cut or scoop polenta onto individual plates and mound vegetables on top. Serve immediately.
– My kids found the saffron to be a little strong, so I made some polenta with out it for them. The vegetables in this dish were amazing! The fennel was extraordinaire . I could not find fresh broccoli rabe anywhere so I used regular broccoli instead. I also used cherry tomatoes because I had some kicking around.
This recipe is printed with permission from Christina Pirello