SLOW COOKED GREEN POLENTA WITH VEGETABLES
It's a divided camp when it comes to polenta. Many of us love this creamy cornmeal dish, a staple food throughout much of Northern Italy. If you're one of those who doesn't love it, I'd like you to give this dish a chance—it's packed full of goodness, but best of all it tastes delicious.
• 1 quart vegetable stock
• 10½ oz "real" polenta (see Tip below)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 garlic cloves, sliced
• 1 onion, coarsely chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into
• 1 in pieces
• 1 small eggplant, cut into 1 in pieces
• 2 zucchini, cut into 1 in pieces
• 12 cherry tomatoes
• salt and freshly ground pepper
• 2 cups spring greens or dark cabbage, coarsely chopped
• 2 handfuls of spinach, central stems removed
• 1 (14-oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1½ oz grated Parmesan cheese
• warm multigrain bread, to serve
1. In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil, then pour in the polenta a little at a time, whisking furiously to prevent lumps. Reduce the heat to low and cook gently, stirring every 3 to 4 minutes to ensure every part of the polenta is moved around to prevent sticking. The polenta will need to cook for about 40 minutes, but follow the instructions on the package.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, then add the garlic, onion, red pepper, and eggplant, and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. At the same time, cook the spring greens or cabbage in boiling water for 3 minutes, then stir in the spinach and cook for another minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the green vegetables into a food processor, with water clinging. Process to a smooth puree and season again to taste.
4. Just before serving, fold the green puree into the polenta, stir, then fold in the vegetables, chickpeas, and Parmesan, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve piping hot, with some warm multigrain bread.
TIP: You can use instant or quick-cook polenta; they're not as good, but they are convenient. If you do use either, prepare your vegetables and greens first so you're ready to fold everything together.
Amount per portion: Energy 503 cals, Protein 20.4g, Fat 14.6g, Saturated fat 3.2g, Carbohydrate 77.4g, Total sugars 14.9g, Fiber 10.3g. Salt 1.84g, Sodium 723mg