Browsing Tag

side dish

Sweet Corn Polenta

It all started with a much needed cleaning out of the pantry. I found a partial bag of yellow cornmeal which I usually use more in the fall and winter. But I also had some sweet corn in the fridge and we had some hot Italians to grill and before you knew it I had formed a plan and then couldn’t get over the fact that I have been mistakenly dismissing polenta during the summer months. Never Again!

In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t stop pairing this creamy version with all kinds of summer delectable’s: brats, anything bbq’d and smothered in sauce, chicken, salmon, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, I could go on.

The point is, this quick (and I mean quick) sweet corn polenta can be used as a side, a smear, a dip, even a sauce. Enjoy!

You can also easily make this a vegan dish by using water instead of milk, using olive oil instead of butter and leaving out the parm.

Ingredients
2 T. butter
1 c. sweet corn kernals (fresh in summer, frozen in the off season)
1 c. whole milk
1.5 c. water
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. fresh chopped herbs like chives, parsley, basil, thyme (optional)

Method
1.) Melt 1 T. butter over medium heat.
2.) Add corn (and left over cob if using fresh). Cook for a minute.
3.) Add milk and water and bring to a boil.
4.) Remove left over cob (if using) and discard. (this just added a bunch of extra flavor!)
5.) Whisk in corn meal and stir until thick and creamy (about 5 minutes).
6.) Season with salt and pepper until it tastes amazing.
7.) Remove polenta from the heat add stir in remaining 1 T. butter, Parmesan cheese and optional fresh herbs.
8.) Serve

Component in Action
-serve with toasted bread
-serve alongside roasted or grilled chicken, salmon, steak, veggies
-a perfect pair for anything bbq’d
-use less liquid to make thicker polenta and more liquid to make thinner.

Christmas Kale

Happy New Year! I know, a perfectly belated time of year to share the recipe that I’ve affectionately named Christmas Kale, but as I considered renaming, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And then I thought, much like the days where I “accidentally” add the Carpenters Christmas Album to my playlist shuffle, this might be just the dish to add a bit of Christmas to meals throughout the year.

Chestnuts are such a seasonal ingredient, they are of course optional. You also can find them in many grocery stores cooked and peeled throughout the year in the bakery or canned section. In the fall you can find them fresh and in the shell, and roasting them yourself is an easier adventure than you might expect. Some heat, patience and a sprinkle of salt is pretty much all you need to enjoy one of fall’s most delicious, satisfying, and hand warming treats.

So why Christmas Kale? Because, and it’s really as simple as this…why not? In fact, the entire dish could be a reincarnation of your favorite Christmas song, only you can eat it. Bacon adds a smoky depth so maybe think of this as the candle studded wine bar with a baby grand tucked in a corner. The onion and garlic play their part as a stand up bass. They are a whisper in comparison to the bold sweetness of the dates and chestnuts. but are actually an invaluable savory anchor, grounding the entire dish. The coconut? Well, let’s just think of this as the melody and texture…here is a music equivalent of it’s perfection.

Ingredients
1/2 c. thick cut bacon (diced)
1 medium red onion (sliced or diced)
3 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
1 c. chestnuts (roasted, peeled and rough chopped)
1 c. dates (seeded and rough chopped)
1 can coconut milk or cream (unsweetened)
8 c. kale (washed and roughly cut into bite size pieces)
salt (to taste)
red pepper flakes (optional/to taste)

Method

1.) In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, cook bacon over low heat until caramelized and the fat has rendered. I love using a thick cut applewood smoked bacon.

2.) Increase heat to medium. Add red onion and cook until onions wilt and start to caramelize.

3.) Add garlic and cook for another minute or so, stirring constantly and making sure the garlic doesn’t burn.

4.) Add the chestnuts and dates. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

5.) Deglaze the pan by pouring in the coconut milk (or cream) and scraping (releasing) all the caramelized bits of bacon, onion and garlic goodness off the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. This ensures that all of this flavor makes it into the final dish and doesn’t get left behind for whoever is on dish duty.

6.) Bring coconut milk to a simmer. This is a great time to taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper.

7.) Add the kale. Stir. Cover pot and cook until kale wilts and is tender (about five minutes).

8.) Give it a taste to check salt and pepper seasoning. Make any additions if needed. Enjoy!

Component in Action

  • replace kale with any other green veggie you want! (brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli, etc.)
  • use as a saucy side dish with spicy sausage or chicken or even pork chops
  • serve over a bed of quinoia or brown rice
  • leave out the bacon to make vegetarian and vegan friendly