Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Veggies

If you want to offend an Italian, refer to polenta as “Italian grits.” I’m guessing. I’ve never actually had the guts to do this, after getting burned making a similar wine faux pas a few years ago:

Me: I love Primitivo wine. I think it’s made from the same grape as Zinfandel, which we produce in my hometown in California!

Primitivo Winemaker: **look of disdain/horror** We have been making Primitivo wines for thousands of years. It is not the same as this Zinfandel.

Me: …… [nods/ hangs head in shame/ holds out empty glass for more]

But really, polenta – long a staple in Northern Italian cuisine – is just coarsely ground cornmeal. Just like grits. Depending on where I’m living and what’s available at the store, I use Italian polenta and American cornmeal interchangeably. Both are easy and affordable to prepare. Both make a rich, hearty porridge when cooked in liquid. And both absolutely benefit from generous helpings of butter, salt and cheese.

Roasted Veggies

In wintertime, I love to serve polenta with braised short ribs or some other meaty sauce. But as the weather gets warmer, polenta is an ideal base for lighter vegetable-based dishes. This version combines simple roasted spring veggies with creamy, cheesy polenta. I advise making extra for leftovers.

Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Veggies

Goat Cheese Polenta with Roasted Vegetables

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

    Fresh vegetables*, cut into 1-inch chunks:
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 8 oz/ 226 g snap peas
  • 16 oz/ 453 g button mushrooms
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 small zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Polenta:
  • 1 cup polenta, or coarse-ground cornmeal
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 oz/ 170 g goat cheese
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan + extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sauce
  • 16 oz./ 453 g jarred or homemade marinara sauce, heated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 204 degrees C.
  2. Place vegetables in 2 roasting pans: the asparagus and snap peas in one pan, and the rest of the veggies in another (the first pan might not take as long to cook as the heartier vegetables). Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until veggies are lightly caramelized and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, start the polenta. In a saucepan, bring the water to boil over medium heat. Add a dash of salt, then slowly pour in the polenta, whisking to break up lumps. Let polenta cook, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and thick and starting to pull away from the edges of the pan (around 20 minutes). Stir in butter, goat cheese and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon the polenta onto plates or shallow bowls. Top with marinara sauce, roasted veggies and grated Parmesan.

Notes

*You can vary the veggies depending on what you have, and what’s in season.

http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/04/04/goat-cheese-polenta-with-roasted-vegetables/

Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts

I love artichokes. I get a huge kick out of seeing their symmetrical little shapes all stacked up at the market this time of year. Growing up in California, I gorged myself on them… and I burned the roof of my mouth more times than I can count because I can never wait for them to cool down before digging in.

Until recently, I would order fresh artichoke dishes in restaurants, but I would never prepare them at home. They just seemed like too much work, and canned artichoke hearts are pretty fantastic. But it’s artichoke season, and we keep getting beautiful artichokes in our CSA basket. I am racked with guilt every time I neglect them and they go bad, so I started playing around with this pasta.

The ingredients are simple, but they complement each other so well. The artichokes are earthy and buttery, and the lemon adds a touch of brightness. And cream and Parmesan are always a good idea; use just a little for a lighter dish, or be heavy-handed for a decadent, creamy sauce.

To be clear, you can make this pasta with canned artichoke hearts, and it will be delicious. But if you have some in-season artichokes just begging to be used… well, here you go.

Lemony Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients

  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • 3-4 T. butter
  • 8 oz./226 g dried spaghetti
  • Zest of 2-3 lemons
  • 2 T. lemon juice (plus more for cooking artichokes)
  • Generous splash of cream
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 6-8 whole artichokes (or 1 can artichoke hearts)

Instructions

  1. Cook artichokes. If using whole, fresh artichokes, roast them with garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice according to this recipe. If using canned artichoke hearts, rinse and drain them. Sauté the hearts with 1 T. of butter, a spoonful of minced garlic and a splash of lemon juice. Roughly chop and set aside.
  2. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook pasta until just shy of al dente.
  3. Meanwhile, melt 3 T. butter in a large skillet. Add lemon zest and cook for a couple minutes. Pour in cream. Use tongs to add the cooked pasta, lemon juice, artichokes and Parmesan. Toss, adding a few spoonfuls of pasta water to thin the sauce if needed.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, and a splash of olive oil. Serve with additional Parmesan and lemon zest on the side.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2017/03/05/lemony-spaghetti-with-artichoke-hearts/

 

Gumbo-Filled Arancini (Rice Balls)

We made a big pot of chicken-sausage gumbo last weekend and had just enough leftovers to make this wondrous dish.

Gumbo-filled arancini. Life-changing, y’all. I’m obsessed.

We fell in love with arancini – Sicilian fried rice balls – when we lived in Naples (the ones filled with meat sauce are my favorite) and have been dying to try this New Orleans variation for some time.

Do yourself a favor, and take the following steps immediately:

  1. Make a huge pot of gumbo – we played around with a combination of recipes (one from our friend Kathleen and one from The New Orleans Cookbook) – and invite people you like to come share it with you. This is an excellent idea for, say, a football game. Bonus points if it’s the Saints game.
  2. The next day, make these gumbo-filled arancini, and prepare to be amazed.
arancini-preparation
Prepping the gumbo and rice balls
rice-balls
Starting to look more like arancini
arancini-before-frying
Breaded arancini, ready for frying
gumbo-arancini
Gumbo arancini with extra gumbo

Gumbo-Filled Arancini

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Gumbo-Filled Arancini

Ingredients

  • Leftover rice
  • Leftover gumbo
  • 3-4 eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

  1. Take the rice out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you start cooking so it has time to warm up a bit. Take the gumbo out of the refrigerator just before you are ready to use it.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, blend leftover rice with 2 beaten eggs until it is slightly sticky and holds together.
  3. Beat remaining egg(s) in a small bowl and set aside. Pour breadcrumbs into a separate bowl and set next to the egg mixture.
  4. For each rice ball, make two small patties out of the rice. Add a dollop of gumbo to the center of one patty, then place the second patty on top. Form the two patties into a round shape.
  5. Dip each rice ball in egg mixture, then roll in breadcrumbs.
  6. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a pan until it is hot but not smoking. Fry arancini in the oil, turning so that each side turns golden brown. Remove from pan and place on paper towels.
  7. Serve with a small bowl of gumbo and extra hot sauce.
http://www.travelingtotaste.com/2014/11/03/gumbo-filled-arancini-rice-balls/