Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Baked Polenta with Ramps. 100 Days of Recipes: Day 3

Although I've been too busy to go forage in the woods or at the Tailgates, I'm starting to hear of the annual appearance of ramps, the distinctly delicious wild onion that once was a rare find, and now seems to be almost ubiquitous in markets and restaurants. Even so, it is a great marker of Spring, happily has not yet gotten to being in markets year-round.

And while Spring is coming and flowers and trees are blooming, the weather still has fun surprises in April. Day 1 of this Challenge was sunny and 70 degrees. Yesterday was grey, cooler, and rainy, ending in rolling thunder storms. In the nearby mountains, snow is predicted by the weekend. Welcome to Spring in Asheville! It being on the cooler and more dreary end of our weather scale while I pondered today's recipe, I was thinking comfort foods, and so offer this for Day 3.

100 Day Challenge, Day 3

Baked Polenta with Ramps

1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped kale leaves & tender stems
1/2 cup ramps, cleaned well and sliced across the leaves & bulbs
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper
optional: fresh grated Pecorino Romano

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a 10" cast iron pan, heat olive oil over med/low heat, and saute the kale and ramps until wilted, but not over-cooked, adding just a pinch of salt and pepper while you cook them. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the greens in the pan. In a small bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the broth and water (you can use all broth or all water if you like). 

Add the cornmeal, liquid mixture, salt, and cayenne to the pan, and stir to combine. Cut up the butter and sprinkle over the top of the pan (it will float), and if adding the Pecorino, sprinkle over the top to lightly cover.

Bake, uncovered, for about 45-60 minutes, or until the dish becomes puffy and then feels 'set' in the middle (not soupy/soft). Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges to serve.

*disclaimer: I have a habit of wanting to try a new recipe and pouring through cookbooks and perusing online to get ideas. So it was, some years ago, when I came across a basic 'baked polenta' recipe, and on a whim I tried a 'half' quantity recipe as it was just for me, and added some leftover saute-ed veggies, so the amounts on the veg are my approximation, as is the estimated pan size. As long as you can fit it all in the pan, go for it! It's also great with diced sweet potatoes, onions, and mushrooms. And bacon. It's kind of like a cross between a frittata and cornbread dressing. Very comfort-foodie, and if you already have the leftovers, it's almost a one-dish preparation. As much as I love messing up the kitchen for a recipe, stirring everything in one pan and baking it is a nice way to go, too.

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