Monday, 8 February 2010
Over the weekend I discovered a new diet. I came to the realisation that the easiest way to curb your appetite and lose weight is to watch the television series Man vs. Wild. In each episode, a British guy called Bear is stranded in a region of the world and shows you how to survive and find your way back to civilsation. As fascinating as it all is, it's pretty gross, especially when it comes to what he eats.... Let's just say there are usually live animals involved - frogs, snakes, fish.. You name it, he eats it, cooked or uncooked. And it doesn't do much for my appetite.. in fact, it pretty much kills it.
Alas, Mr Ladybird is a diehard fan of the show, so somehow I still end up still watching it, albeit often peering through hands and screaming "Ewwww...!". So with Man vs. Wild a regular part of evenings in the Ladybird household at the moment, the size of our dinners on those evenings miraculously decreases, at least for me anyway. On such an evening, I decided I wanted to make something small with polenta. Polenta is one of those ingredients I really love but don't use enough, so I wanted to change that.
I decided to make polenta rounds topped with wilted spinach and delicious roast mushrooms. So here is a 'kinda-sort-of' recipe to this dish...
This part of the dish can be made ahead of time, even 1 or 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge. This recipe will make a medium size slab of polenta which you can use for this dish, as well as others of your own creation. For example, polenta rounds topped with a fresh pesto and a slow roasted balsamic tomato, or you could even have some grilled polenta alongside some eggs, etc for a hearty savoury brunch.
500 ml water
500 ml milk
30 g parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsb butter
175 g polenta
salt and white pepper
1. In a heavy-based saucepan, bring milk and water to boil and then whisk in the polenta until thoroughly mixed.
2. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 40 mins, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking.
3. Remove from heat, season, and mix through parmesan and butter.
4. Pour into a greased tray to set, smoothing to make it as flat as possible. It should be about a 2 cm thickness (I used a brownie tray and this worked well).
5. Allow to cool, then cut out two rounds with a food stack ring or egg ring.
6. Fry in a small amount of olive oil in a pan, turning once. Alternatively, brush with a little olive oil and cook on a griddle/chargrill pan unti lovely grill marks appear.
I made the mushrooms by quartering button mushrooms and tossing them in a dish along with 2 crushed cloves of garlic, fresh thyme, olive oil, a small knob of butter and salt and pepper. I roasted them for 20 mins at 200 degrees celcius, and then crumbled a little dodoni fetta over the top and mixed through. The fetta lended a nice salty flavour to the mushrooms, and the creaminess of the fetta formed a light sauce when mixed with the pan juices.
Wilting spinach is really quick and easy, and a good way to pack lots of healthy spinach into a meal with minimum fuss. In a large pan heat a drizzle of good olive oil and throw in a generous couple of handfuls of washed baby spinach leaves. Season and toss until the spinach is wilted, then remove from heat and use immediately.
To assemble the dish, carefully top cooked polenta pieces with wilted spinach and then mushrooms and a sprig of fresh thyme. Using a food stack ring may help. These are available from kitchen supply stores. Bon appetit!
Hope you all have a wonderful week :)