Spicy Broccoli with Crispy Friend Polenta
A reader suggested that I share my 10 favorite recipes, which I thought would be easy. However, I had trouble deciding between my favorite everyday and favorite special occasion dishes. I landed on the dishes that I crave often. Some are easy, some are more complicated. Many have been adapted from cookbooks, others I’ve made up myself. I have made the decision to split the recipes out into separate posts, gathering them together in a summation post when I am finished. I will start with my first recipe and list my other choices, all to come down the line!
Up first, spicy broccoli with crispy fried polenta. The broccoli portion of this dish is adapted from a recipe from The Zuni Café Cookbook (Spicy Cauliflower & Broccoli Pasta). The pasta is FABULOUS, and if you are interested, I highly recommend purchasing the cookbook. I sometimes make this as a pasta, other times I make it as a side dish. I sometimes use cauliflower, or broccoli, and often both. Polenta is not something I cook often, but the following recipe is my favorite and I think it’s fantastic paired with the spicy broccoli as a wonderful vegetarian option.
Ingredient List – Serves 4
- 2 heads broccoli
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 shakes of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 & 1/2 cup milk (may be replaced with water or vegetable stock to make dish vegan)
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1/4 lemon
- 1/4 medium-hot pepper
- Salt & pepper
- Fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Cut off the stalks of the broccoli and slice length-wise into thin (1/8 inch) strips. Don’t worry about the florets as they break off. The pieces should look like tiny little slabs with bits and pieces of floret. Mince 6 cloves of fresh garlic and 1/4 cup parsley.
Line a small baking pan with parchment paper. Simmer milk with 2 cloves of garlic, sprig of rosemary, lemon and pepper for five minutes. Do not allow it to get too hot or the milk with burn. After five minutes, remove the rosemary, garlic, pepper and lemon from the milk. Season the milk with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat and add the polenta in a slow stream while stirring. Cook for a few more moments until the polenta is creamy. Put the polenta into the baking pan and cover with another piece of parchment paper. Press down with a flat object (like a smaller pan) until the polenta is around 1/4 inch thick and uniform. Put into the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
Remove polenta and cut into 2-3″ pieces. I like to cut them into abnormal shapes so they are not uniform.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup olive oil. When hot, add the majority of the broccoli pieces, leaving the small florets behind. Give the pan a good shake and LEAVE THE BROCCOLI to crisp up. Do not be tempted to continually stir the broccoli or you will end up with a steaming mass. After around 5 minutes give the broccoli a toss and add a dash of olive oil, the remaining bits of broccoli, the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Leave to crisp again for a few more moments. Add parsley and remove from heat.
Heat the remaining oil in another large sauté pan. Add polenta pieces and fry each side until brown. Plate the polenta and add the broccoli on top. Add loads of yummy Parmesan cheese and serve!
Coming up in future top recipe posts…..
Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Mustard Breadcrumbs (from Sunday Suppers at Lucques)
Strawberry Shortcake (from Martha Stewart)
Pan-Roasted Chicken (from Biba’s Northern Italian Cooking)
Crab Cakes (from Saveur magazine)
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Chicken, Walnut & Apple Salad