Barbara said she wanted Polenta last night, so I made a version that we really liked, featuring a savory sauce I just invented.
The polenta part was relatively easy: 1 cup of medium stone-ground Italian cornmeal and three cups of liquid (2 cups water, 1 cup Rice Dream — rice milk). Bring water, and rice milk to a boil, add some salt, slowly drizzle the cornmeal into the pot, and stir constantly while it simmers, at least 15 minutes — or longer — until it is smooth and creamy. If you are feeling in a not-so-vegan mood, add 3/4 cup of fresh Asiago cheese, cut in cubes, and about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, stirring into the polenta until it melts.
Wash a bunch of baby spinach and wilt it in a covered hot skillet with 1-2 Tbs. olive oil. Cool and coarsely chop the spinach.
The fun part was the sauce. We had some sliced sweet onions left over from pizza on Sunday, so I sautéed them in olive oil until tender and lightly browned. Next I added a roasted, peeled red pepper (Greek, pre-packaged), chopped up and mixed with the onion. When those flavors were well-blended, I cut up a flavorful tomato (Kumato brand is a good one this time of year), and cooked that until dissolved with the onion and pepper. Now for the secret ingredient: red onion jam from Calabria. These are made from small red onions that grow in Tropea, Calabria, and carry the special IGP status. I had purchased a small jar recently, and I thought they would perk up the sauce. Zing!
The final dish was assembled in a pasta bowl.
I decided to go with a white wine and selected a Loire Valley natural wine, a 2011 Mineral+ from Frantz Saumon, from organically grown fruit in Montlouis — pure Chenin Blanc and quite stunning.
I liked the sauce so much, I decided to replicate it again tonight for a quick dinner tonight, this time with Swiss Chard and the leftover spinach, atop gnocchi. The wine was also Calabrian, Jan D’Amore’s 2003 Polpicello from Odoardi.