Saffron Polenta with Sautéed Vegetables
Richly flavored and silky smooth, this main course will fill you with pleasure. Creamy, yes, but not mild-mannered, this dish is loaded with the kind of energy that will make you sparkle and your skin glow. Corn polenta, with its sunny disposition joins with vigorously sautéed vegetables and stimulating herbs, creating a symphony of vitality.
Makes 6-7 servings
5 cups spring or filtered water
1/2 cups organic yellow cornmeal
1/2 cups organic yellow corn grits
pinch sea salt
2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 teaspoons warm water
extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, thin half-moon slices
6-8 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 small fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush to the bulb, thinly sliced
1 carrot, fine match stick pieces
1/2 cup mirin or white wine
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 small bunch finely cut broccoli rabe
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, shredded
Prepare the polenta by whisking together the water, cornmeal, grits, salt, oil and saffron (and soaking water) in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Reduce 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 an hour.
For the vegetables, place oil, garlic and onion in a wok or skillet, over medium heat. When the vegetables begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, a pinch of salt and sauté until mushrooms release their juices into the pan and turn slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in fennel and carrot, a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Add mirin, 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.
Cook’s Tip: If you do not want to cook with alcohol, simply substitute the mirin or wine with vegetable broth.