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HERBED POLENTA PRIMAVERA

The green is just, happy, you know? If you haven't jumped on the polenta bandwagon yet, do it. It is economical and versatile and creamy, comforting, and nearly effortless--no excuses on a busy weeknight. Plus, you can feed a crowd. So many pros and no cons (in my opinion) unless you count the fact that you'll become full if you overeat... but that happens with several foods.


This polenta is flavored with the classic pairing of butter and garlic and the addition of spring herbs, parsley, and chives--adding delicate savoriness without the overbearing heat of onion. On top is a quick saute of chopped asparagus, baby peas, artichoke hearts, and extra Parm. (Never enough parm.)



Notes: Olive oil is extra virgin. Butter is unsalted.


HERBED POLENTA PRIMAVERA

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups fine, yellow cornmeal, 4 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tbsp. butter, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tbsp. chopped chives, 2 tbsp. chopped parsley, 3/4 lb. asparagus, chopped, 2 cups frozen baby peas, 14 ounces quartered artichoke hearts (drained from a can), 2 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. minced garlic, and shaved Parmesan to taste.

Serves 4-5.


1. Start the polenta: Combine the cornmeal and broth in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat. Once simmering, clamp on a lid, keep it ajar and turn the heat to low. Cook until thickened but with a "wave"--about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat.


2. Saute the Veggies: Add the olive to a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the chopped asparagus and artichoke hearts. (I chopped both into 1-inch pieces.) Cook for 5 minutes, until the asparagus, is tender-crisp. Add in the peas and a small splash of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and cook for 3-4 minutes longer. Remove from heat.


3. Finish the polenta: As soon as the polenta is done, stir in the butter and grated Parm. Add the chopped chives and parsley, and black pepper. Serve by mounding polenta on a plate to create a bed, then spoon over the hot veggies. Top with shaved Parmesan ribbons.


TIPS

  1. If the polenta cooked faster than the veggies and is stiff, simply hydrate with a little broth or water.

  2. To keep the peas from turning brown and mushy, make sure to add them to the other veggies for only the last 3-4 minutes.


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