Roasted Delicata, Arugula and Parmesan Polenta
It’s hard to believe that it was only recently that we started having Polenta around Casa la Del, because it’s quickly become one of my favorite dishes to make. It’s such an easy, simple and hearty dish to make. The first time I made it, I just kinda glanced at the ‘basic’ directions on the side of the package and jumped in feet first, and the results surprised me. It was so good. Since then, we’ve had polenta quite a few times, and I’ve been slowly tweaking my way around to find my favorite method of preparation.
When I first made Polenta, I was surprised at the liquid to cornmeal ratio – I mean most rices and grains typically stop at a 2:1 … maybe 2.5:1. A ratio of 4:1 seemed awfully high, but having never made it before I just went with it, thinking I could drain it if neccessary. But it ended up working out – in fact the first time I made polenta, I ended up with quite a bit of leftovers, because I made a double batch, thinking it wouldn’t make that much. Although, sometimes I’ll make a double batch on purpose now. It is very handy to have some cooked grains ready to be warmed up in the fridge.
The Delicata Squash had been sitting on my counter for a couple of weeks now. I had picked some up when they first started showing up at the Farmer’s Market, but just hadn’t had an opportunity to use it yet, although I’ve been kicking around some ideas of what to use it in for a while. (Incidentally, a melon baller seemed to make an excellent pulp-scooper.) Anyways, the inspiration for part of this dish came from a post I saw on another site where someone had sliced and roasted the Delicata – they had sprinkled theirs with spices and feta cheese, and it looked lovely. Sadly, I forgot to bookmark them so I don’t have the link handy anymore, but thats somewhere on my agenda to try sometime, too. However, for this dish, I wanted to use up some of the greens that I had in the fridge. In our FFTY box this week, we received sooooo many Greens – Rapini, Kale – and of course Arugula. It’s definitely one of the challenges you face when you eat seasonally. At some point you become inundated with one or another type of fruit or vegetable and you have to get creative. lol
I’ve also found myself in the unfortunate predicament of having more of the types of fruits that we don’t tend to eat as quickly – such as apples and oranges, so I (sadly) decided this week that I would need to switch back to the smaller ‘regular’ box – atleast until I come up with a better method for using them. (or until other fruits come in to season) Fortunately, I’ll be able to supplement with Planet Organics and Spud – both of which are quickly becoming near and dear to my weekly shopping experience. Planet Organics is starting to edge out Spud, I think, but I haven’t made a true decision yet. When I do though, I think I’ll post a blog about it. I think it’d make an interesting post to compare them.
I already had the lentils cooked and waiting in the fridge to be used, which made this dish go together quickly once the Polenta was done. I’ve tried to make it a habit to have atleast two to three (mostly) vegetarian meals a week, and I’ve found that it’s frequently easier to do that if I have cooked beans sitting in the fridge. This week, it was lentils, which you can probably guess – considering I also used them in the Browned Butter and Pumpkin Lentil Pasta dish I made a few days ago. If you don’t have lentils though, you could easily use any other cooked (or canned I suppose) bean instead. Although, I like the lentils here so I recommend that if you have them available that you use them.
Like many other vegetables that I’ve tried since joining a CSA, Winter Squash has truly joined the ranks of my favorite veggies, and Delicata Squash is leading the charge. When we had this for dinner the other night, I only made up one squash, but I know next time I’ll have to make more. I had my timing off a little bit the night I made this, underestimating the time the squash would take to cook. So it was ready well before the polenta. While it sat out on the counter, waiting for everything else to finish cooking, I ended up sneaking a couple of slices to snack on while I was making dinner, and thinking that this would make a lovely snack to have ready to go in the fridge. If that doesn’t convince you though – even Miss Thing owned up and said that the squash “wasn’t that bad”, which considering her long standing and deep rooted hatred for all winter squashes, is very high praise indeed. As for Mr. Man and myself, we both adored this dish. For my part, I was quite frankly stunned at how delicious it turned out. I highly recommend eating it all together, as I’ve shown, because eating them separately just doesn’t provide the same melding of flavors. The tangy vinaigrette perfectly complements the sweetness of the squash, the meaty lentils – I mean, it all just WORKS. It’s in the top ten meals I’ve made in the last few months. Seriously.
- 1 Delicata Squash; halved, seeds removed and sliced in to 1/4″ slices
- 1 bunch of Arugula; torn in to bite size pieces
- 4 cups Broth or Stock (I used Scrap Stock)
- 1 cup Coarse Ground Cornmeal
- 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 cup Cooked Du Puy Lentils
- ½ cup Milk
- 3 tbs Good quality Olive Oil
- 1 tbs Champagne Vinegar
- 1 tbs Cooking Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Coarse Ground Mustard (I used Homemade)
- Kosher Salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Toss the squash slices with the cooking olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt
- Spread in to a single layer on a roasting pan
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until tender and beginning to brown
- While the squash is roasting, cook the polenta
- Bring the broth or stock and a couple pinches of kosher salt to a boil
- Pour the cornmeal in to the broth in a steady stream, whisking constantly
- Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until polenta is nearly tender
- Add the milk to the polenta and continue to simmer until polenta is cooked through, and just beginning to set up
- Stir in the Parmesan. Cover and remove from heat until ready to serve
- Whisk together the mustard, vinegar and good quality olive oil, along with a pinch or two of kosher salt (to taste)
- Toss the vinaigrette with the Arugula
- To serve: spread the polenta on the plate, top with arugula – then Lentils and the roasted Delicata Squash slices