Oh, polenta. How I love thee? Let me count the ways. You are incredibly easy. You are amazingly cheap. You go with just about anything. And you are oh, so delicious.
To be honest, I wouldn’t eat polenta for years. My mother eats a form of polenta called “mush” that is pan-fried and covered with maple syrup. As a kid, I found it to be a most vile concoction. It took a couple decades before I would touch a toe into the polenta pool again. Once I did, I wanted it all the time. Not the satan stew my mom eats, but the soft, cheesy, salty polenta I make. Yes, they sell prepared polenta in the store, but once you’ve made it from scratch you’ll wonder why anybody would ever buy the stuff. It’s like buying pre-toasted bread, which, incidentally, I saw in the grocery last week.
Also, it’s sweet potato greens season, sometimes called sweet potato leaves. These are, obvious to the name, the leaves that grow above ground as the potatoes grow below. When we first got these in our CSA last year, I rushed to the interwebs looking for ideas on how to prepare them. I came up with a big fat goose egg. I could barely find any mention of them as a food, much less recipes. But over time I learned that they cook and act pretty much like spinach. I have yet to try them raw, but they substitute into cooked dishes in place of spinach almost perfectly. I had no clue what to do with this week’s batch, so flying without a net, I came up with tonight’s dinner. Squash and sweet potato greens with polenta. And it was good. Really good. Like I would pay money in a restaurant for this dish good, and rarely do I think my food is restaurant quality. Also, it was fast and easy, and toddler approved to boot! You know you’ve got a winner when your toddler is wolfing down a plate of cornmeal pudding and sweet potato greens.
2 cans (or 3.5 c) low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 c water
3/4 c cornmeal
1/2 c or so parmesan cheese
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
About a pound of some sort of summer squash or zucchini
1 large bunch sweet potato greens, most of the stems removed and cut into about 1″ strips
2 T flour
1/4 c chopped basil
More parmesan for sprinkling
For the polenta:
In a large pot, bring 2 1/2 c chicken broth plus 1 c water to a boil. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking as you add. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and let the polenta cook, whisking occasionally, until it is thick like pudding. Whisk in the parmesan cheese and set aside.
For the vegetables:
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the garlic in the olive oil until fragrant. Add the squash and saute until softened. Add the sweet potato greens and saute until the greens have wilted down (2 minutes). Sprinkle the vegetables with 2 T flour and stir to coat evenly. Add the remaining 1 c chicken stock and simmer until it forms a thick sauce (3-5 minutes).
Serve the vegetables over a mound of polenta, top with the 1/4 c chopped basil and additional parmesan cheese, if desired.