Another day, another snow storm.
Seriously, I never knew winter could last thing long. I know there are plenty of places that are much, much colder with much harsher weather, but this is enough for me. Particularly when I step onto what I think is the sidewalk, but is really a foot deep puddle of snow and sludge.
I dream of sunshine and tea parties and some asparagus! Oh, and tomatoes, notfromacan but honesttogoodness real tomatoes that.grow.on.a.vine. Who knew these would become my dreams.
But we aren’t quite there yet…
We have at least a few more weeks of this – seeing the sun peek through and dreaming of spring, to find you’ve overslept because the snow made the streets quiet. And a few more weeks with our friends, those hearty winter greens that we are just about tired of, so I’ve decided to make the best of it.
And the best of it involves pairing the greens with cheese. And polenta. Even a wet foot can seem better when creamy polenta and gorgonzola are in your future.
Instead of a ragu, this is just a simple sauté of blanched kale, deep-dark-browned mushrooms, and lots of leeks. The polenta is served creamy, but just run under the broiler for a minute, to blacken the top and add a bit of smokiness to it all. And between these two layers, a good smothering of gorgonzola. If you put it there, the heat from the polenta and vegetables will soften it a bit, but it won’t be entirely melted as would be if added directly to the polenta. I need that bite it gives to ward of this final (please!!) snow.
How do you cope with these long winters? Seriously, this CA gal could use some tips.
Polenta with Mushrooms, Kale and Gorgonzola
NOTE: When mushrooms are playing a staring role, I like to quarter them unstead of slice them, so they still have a presence, when they have reduced and browned.
We ate this as dinner, but it would also be great as side to a pork roast (or anything really).
–For the polenta: 1 cup polenta (not instant) or yellow cornmeal 4 cups water (or stock, or combination there of) 1 t. salt 1½ T. butter
– For the vegetables: 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, rinsed and chopped 1 package cremini mushrooms (8 oz), wiped clean and quartered 2-3 T. olive oil, divided pinch fresh nutmeg kosher salt pepper gorgonzola cheese –
Bring four cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add salt and then slowly whisk in polenta. Whisk occasionally (contrary to popular belief, you do not have to stir continuously – just every few minutes while preparing the other things) until all the liquid absorbs and the polenta is thick enough to hold a wooden spoon standing up, about 25-30 minutes. (Or follow the instructions for your particular brand – this is a pretty standard ratio, but every brand is different, with different size grains, etc.).
Meanwhile, in a large heavy bottomed skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat, and add the leeks. Sauté leeks until they are slightly soft and just barely golden, about 5 minutes; remove from pan. In the same pan, add another tablespoon olive and add mushrooms, cooking as they reduce down and get dark, about 15 minutes.
While the mushrooms are cooking, blanch the kale in boiling salted water for about 2 minutes, or until it wilts just a bit. Remove from the water and reserve 1 cup of the salted cooking water.
When the mushrooms are brown, season with salt and pepper. Add the leeks and kale back into the pan; add a bit of the cooking water (about ¼ cup at a time), to bring it all together and scraping up the bits that have collected on the bottom of the pan. Season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.
When polenta has finished cooking, add butter and stir to incorporate. Transfer polenta to a greased baking dish and pop under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, or until the top has browned.
Top polenta with gorgonzola cheese (as much or as little as you would like – but truthfully you don’t need much) and leek, mushroom and kale mixture.