cook fresh food. be sassy.

Posts tagged as polenta

Red Cabbage & Squash Gratin

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Mar 5, 2012 at 8:27am

cabbage squash gratin

I made this colorful dish for Christmas dinner and am just getting around to sharing it with you now. I’d like to say that I sat down and thought about everyone’s favorite vegetables and what would be pretty with the rest of the meal but honestly…I got rushed, and behind, and realized awfully late that I’d said I would bring a vegetable dish out to my Aunt Mary’s farm. I was grateful to find a kabocha squash, a head of red cabbage, and a spot of Parmesan cheese in the cooler.

Merry Christmas to me! Seriously.

When I bring a dish to someone else’s home, my goal is for it to be at least partially prepared ahead of time to minimize freaking the hostess out with the need for a cutting board, pans, and precious space on a crowded cooktop. I also knew that our meal was going to be awfully rich – standing rib roast, creamy potatoes, all the goodness of a holiday meal. This gratin exists in the realm of a pan of sauteed vegetables, with just a bit of cheese to tie it all together.

If you haven’t roasted a kabocha squash before, you’re in for such a treat! The rind is quite soft – edible even, although I confess I have yet to eat it myself – and the flesh is flavorful, smooth, and just-sweet. I predict it will be your favorite new squash. The play of smooth, sweet squash with still-crunchy cabbage is lovely with a roast. Or atop polenta for a meatless dinner.

Recipe for Red Cabbage & Squash Gratin at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Easy Deliciousness: Polenta

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 4, 2011 at 11:46am


My polentaaaah recipe at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly Magazine.

Baby, It’s Bitterly Cold Outside

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 8, 2010 at 7:36am

Seriously, it’s been below-zero for a week.  Nothing new for Minnesota, just a particularly harsh reminder that holiday and birthday fun are officially over, welcome to real winter.  Forget the fluffy snow-twinkly light-wrapping presents-sledding winter.  No, this kind of cold is way beyond the warming reach of hot cocoa.  This is ugly, mean, dangerous cold, the kind that every year has me asking…WHY DO I LIVE HERE?  Sigh.  I’ll stop now.

And make the best of it, as I always do, by whipping up something warm and comforting.  Peasant-style food works here, in today’s case humble polenta.  Or spectacular polenta, as it were, with just a kiss of butter, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and either a generous shower of grated Parmesan cheese or – my breakfast this morning – an over-easy egg.  The trick with polenta is to cook it for a long time and give it several good stirs, that’s what makes it creamy-dreamy without a drop of cream (although go ahead and add cream if you wish, you certainly won’t regret it).

Follow this recipe, tonight perhaps, and serve it alongside beef stew, or grilled lamb chops, or roasted vegetables, or even just sauteed mushrooms.  Sauteed greens are particularly delicious (think collards & grits and you get the picture…).  Make a big batch, eat the first round porridge-style, then eat the leftovers sliced and sauteed or grilled (since it becomes quite firm upon cooling).

On a slightly different note, here are two healthy, comfort-y recipes that could be nice for the weekend – green salad with warm potatoes, and frisee salad with an egg (perfect brunch food, add a glass of bubbly; they leave off the traditional bacon/lardons, but I submit that a very small amount of bacon packs a big flavor punch, so go for it if you think you’ll miss it).

Later note, February 14, 2010: Mark Bittman/NYTimes has a similar rave, plus a video, check it out.

Good Morning. Or Afternoon. Or Evening.

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Feb 28, 2009 at 7:51am

Here’s a quick, perhaps lighter version of an all-time favorite, described (and photographed) deliciously in this New York Times articlepolenta with eggs and greens.  The article outlines a naughty version with lots of butter and cheese (in my world known as polentaaaah), which would of course completely rock.  But my version is actually quite light and nutritious (for me, the richness of an egg yolk is plenty with this simple dish).

First, start the polenta.  Since no one else in the house likes it, ’round here I prepare a one-serving portion, roughly 3 Tbsp. polenta to 1 cup of water.  I’ll be honest – when I’m doing a quickie meal like this, I don’t bother to boil the water first and slowly stir in the polenta.  I put both water and grain in a pan, bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer, stir it several times as it cooks and thickens (about 15 minutes) and call it done (season with additional salt and pepper to taste).  No, it’s not as fabulously creamy and decadent as the much longer-cooked version of polentaaah, but that’s OK, it’s still delicious, especially with what follows…

While the polenta cooks, mince a clove of garlic and roughly chop a handful or two greensspinach or chard (kale would be delicious, but needs longer cooking).  After the polenta is done, spoon it into a flat (pasta) bowl and set it aside while you cook the greens and egg.  Start by sauteeing the minced garlic with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes in a tablespoon or so of olive oil for a couple of minutes.  Toss greens into the pan.  Stir them around until nicely wilted, then push them off to the side of the pan.  Crack an egg into the pan.  Season and fry it to your liking (I prefer mine over-medium; you want some yolk to add the richness of a “sauce”).  Spoon greens and egg on top of polenta, top with a grating of Parm if you like, and enjoy thoroughly.  One of the best breakfast/lunch/dinners I can imagine.  Delicious with a glass of medium-bodied (even spicy) red wine (or a cup of coffee – not even I drink red wine for breakfast…).

Hi Honey

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 28, 2009 at 8:51am

Man I love honey-crisp apples, still tasting mighty fine.  As much as I’m enjoying the frozen berries and cherries I mentioned yesterday, I still need something fresh to sink my teeth into, if for no other reason than to remind me that plants were once alive in Minnesota.  Sigh.  And honey-crisps are particularly Minnesotan, as the delicious variety (name says it all) was developed here by the University of Minnesota.  I really like the smaller version and grab them when I spot them, sometimes at Whole Foods, sometimes at Byerly’s.  They’re quite tasty sliced with a smear of almond butter, or grated into oatmeal or pancakes, or with a slice of sharp cheddar, or of course just out of hand.  Sasha is an apple-dipped-in-chocolate afficionado and who could disagree with that?  Chocolate!  Nathan likes them with peanut butter, or dipped in caramel sauce.  So good.

There are locally grown mushrooms at the market as well.  I’m a big, BIG mushroom lover and as such, like the cheese, I stand alone.  At least in my family.  But that’s OK, I’m also the cook, so I saute a pan of mushrooms on the side (little olive oil and minced garlic, sprinkle of salt, finish with a squeeze of lemon) and add them to all the other things I make for dinner.  In fact, they’re a delicious stand-in for meat, so if I make burgers, for instance, I’ll make myself a small (2 oz.) burger and load it up with mushrooms.  My goodness, so delicious.  Ditto steak and chicken – a nicely sauteed chicken breast, topped with mushrooms and a bit of pan juices?  In my book, hard to beat.  I use them to fill out pasta dishes too, often sauteed with other vegetables – everyone else has a plate of spaghetti, I have a small portion of spaghetti filled out with lots and lots of vegetables.  The way it’s supposed to be.  (My hope is that the kids will someday follow suit.  That whole “if you cook vegetables in flavorful ways, and offer them repeatedly to your children, they’ll soon be eating them” thing has not worked for me…  You?)  And then there’s my favorite dining-alone dinner – sauteed mushrooms with polentaaaaah. Hmmm, I could use one of those dinners, it’s been awhile.