I did not grow up with polenta. I have no food memories of helping a grandmother stir the polenta with a wooden spoon that came over from Italy. I’m Irish. I have overly fond attachments to mashed potatoes. And to Stove Top Stuffing (that’s the American heritage, I’m sure.) So polenta is a fairly recent discovery for me, and I wasn’t really sold on the idea of it initially either. Corn meal mush? sort of like corn grits? I was skeptical.
I’ve done grilled polenta cakes before, but I hadn’t experimented with just a bowl of polenta until this recipe. My local coffee shop makes a dish with polenta and roasted tomatoes that is wonderful, but the polenta tastes positively of butter (probably why it’s so wonderful!). I wanted to come up with a recipe that would be just a little lighter. I’d also picked up chanterelle mushrooms on my trip to the Berkeley Farmers’ Market that I wanted to use, and I always have kale in the fridge.
Somehow kale became one of my grocery store staples; it works its way into pasta dishes, and stir frys, and smoothies and juices, and I feel better having had some of its green super powers in my day.
There isn’t very much of a recipe to this dish. I cooked the polenta in vegetable broth, which was KEY to the tastiness of this recipe. 1/2 cup of coarse ground polenta to 2 cups of vegetable broth. (I use the Better than Bouillon No Chicken base). I stirred the polenta periodically. Not constantly, but when I remembered to stir it, every few minutes or so. When it started to thicken up (maybe 20min? I didn’t time this at all). I sautéed the chanterelles in a little bit of butter, and wilted the kale in a covered pan with 2 tbsp of water. As soon as the polenta looked done, I melted in a little pat of butter, and topped the polenta with the kale and chanterelles.
It was delicious. I licked the polenta spoon positively clean and wished I’d made more (the 1/2 cup of dry polenta made us two servings of polenta). I’m no longer skeptical about polenta. Expect to see this tasty little staple topped with all sorts of things in the future.