26 recipes: Spring veg polenta with horse-coco cream
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness...
That’s Autumn, darling
See what delights in sylvan scenes appear! Descending Gods have found Elysium here.
That’s even called, ‘Summer’
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote; The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
Beautiful soup, so rich and green, waiting in a hot tureen!
And for the last time, soup season is over. Like it or not, we’re having polenta.
What you need for a dinner for two:
For the polenta:
1 cup of fine polenta
4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
A splash of milk or cream
Salt and pepper
For the veg:
A selection of spring veg*
2 cloves of garlic (or garlic oil if you’ve had that kind of day)
Half a lemon
Olive oil or butter
For the horse-coco cream:
A tin of coconut milk (or yogurt or crème fraiche)
*Veg in season right now includes fresh peas, purple sprouting broccoli, fennel, baby potatoes, cabbage and cauliflower, peppers, leeks, jerusalem artichokes, spinach and spring greens
Meet the perfect spring dish. Fresh and green, yet filling and warming. Polenta is easily overlooked because most don’t know what to do with it, and without some kind of flavour it’s shockingly bland. But tart it up with some stock, tangy cheese and seasoning and you have yourself a gorgeous, comforting yet super healthy spring feast. It’s also fabulously versatile. Use whatever veg you have to hand or caught your eye at the farmers market.
First make your horse-coco cream. This is pretty easy. Scoop a heaped teaspoon of fresh horseradish into a bowl or a mug, followed by a tablespoon of coconut milk. Tip: if you buy organic coconut milk, you’ll usually find that the cream has risen to the top (lack of artificial stabilisers you see) which you can use to create a thicker consistency. Then adjust the balance of horseradish to coconut based on how eye-popping you want your dinner.
Next chop and set aside your veg, then make or heat your stock. I tend to use a bouillon stock powder which has the distinct advantage of being able to add a shake of powder into the dish followed by water – ideal for lazy cooks.
Set a frying pan on a medium heat and a saucepan on low. Into the frying pan add some oil or butter, or both (which stops the butter burning) and throw in onions if you’re using them, or the most robust veg and garlic if you’re not. Shake this about for a few minutes before adding any softer veg, squeezing in the half lemon and setting the lid on.
Put the polenta into the saucepan, add half the hot stock and stir like crazy. The liquid will absorb in seconds. Add more and keep stirring until you have a thick, smooth polenta. This should only take about five minutes. Add the parmesan, seasoning and milk or cream, and give it a taste. If it’s still a bit grainy, keep it on the heat a little longer, being careful not to let the bottom burn.
When the polenta is good to go, serve it up as if it were mash and lovingly scatter your garlicky spring veg and anything extra from the fridge that takes your fancy (avocado, leftover roast chicken, a bit of feta cheese perhaps). Add a dollop of horse-coco sauce, pour yourself a glass of white and toast the blue skies and blossom.
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