I picked up some quick-cooking polenta recently, and am happy to present this recipe. I would recommend slowly whisking in the polenta to the boiling water, and then keeping the add-in ingredients very close by. I was running around the kitchen looking for a lid, while polenta was bubbling like volcanic ash onto my arms, and onto the floor. You can serve the polenta right away, or you can let it cool into a mold (such as a shallow narrow pan like a small bread loaf pan, or a bowl) to slice later. Allow an hour more if you mold the polenta. Otherwise this can come together in 40 minutes.
Back in Chapel Hill my friend Melissa made a truffle-mushroom-polenta dish. I think she was trying to pan-fry the polenta but it just melted into the oil, and so she just stirred in her truffled mushrooms. Then as if that couldn’t get any better, she served it up with some bourbon bread pudding. Melissa, one day, I want both of these recipes, and to finally have my very own bottle of Bulleit Bourbon.
This came together pretty quickly between 30-45 minutes. If you want fancy polenta slices, allow up to an hour, but most of it is idle time, or could be prepared in advance.
Cabbage Lentil Soup
1 tbsp and 1 tsp butter or oil
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
1 cup red onion, chopped (about 2 small red onions)
1 medium carrot, chopped
2-3 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
3/4 cup French green dried lentils
1 vegetarian bouillon cube
1-2 liters water
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp dried garlic powder
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1 tsp oregano
4-5 cups cabbage, cut into wide ribbons.
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp parsley chopped, for garnish (set aside 2 tbsp for the polenta)
1. Heat up the butter over medium-high heat in a large soup stockpot.
2. Add in the minced garlic and after 1 minute, add in onions and carrots. Stir for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in tomato paste, and 2 tbsp water, stir to combine.
4. Add in water, lentils, bouillon cubes and the cumin, red chili powder, onion flakes, dried garlic powder, and oregano. Stir to combine. Add in more water if the level looks low. You want enough water so it looks like a soupy and so the lentils can cook. Cook partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir the soup often.
5. Stir in the cabbage and salt and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
6. Garnish the soup with parsley and serve alongside the polenta.
5 cups water
1 cup ready-cook polenta
1/3 cup parmesan-reggiano, shredded
2 tbsp truffle oil
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt to taste cooking spray if using a mold
1. Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan and set aside 1 cup of ready-cook polenta.
2. If you have pot holders, put them on for this next step, and turn down the heat to medium-high. For 2 minutes, whisk in the polenta quickly making sure to get rid of any lumps. Quickly, add in parmesan, truffle oil and parsley. As the polenta thickens the boiling turns into spurts, and you can get burned. It’s worth it, the polenta is very good. Turn the heat off and continue to stir another 2 minutes.
3. Serve immediately, or follow directions below to make a mold so you can slice the polenta.
Put the cooked polenta into an oiled medium mixing bowl, or an oiled medium bread loaf pan. Set in the fridge (1 hour) or freezer (30 minutes) for rapid cooling. It can take up to an hour.
Once cool, slide the polenta onto a cutting board and cut into desired thickness. You can place the polenta in a grill pan (the non-stick ones) used for making grill marks, or put it into a regular skillet and brown with some cooking spray - or you could use a baking sheet and place lightly brushed polenta slices on top and broil on high for a minute or two.