Monday, March 27, 2017

Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Asparagus

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 4 Day 2
Theme: Are you Pudding me?
Dish: Cheesy Polenta with Sautéed Asparagus

An amazing combination of freshly made polenta with cheddar cheese; served with a side of sautéed Asparagus and Spring Greens!


Polenta, a different form of cornmeal is very popular in Northern and Central Italy. This is a boiled version of corn that can be enjoyed as a porridge or it can be allowed to cool and then be baked, sauteed or fried in the form of discs, sticks or cubes.

By definition, polenta falls into the category of pudding. It is one of the most popular savoury puddings, alongside Yorkshire Pudding and Cheese Pudding. A really simple recipe with minimum ingredients, this one is perfect for breakfast or as a meal.

The corn meal used for this one is yellow in color and the result is a bright bowl that is really pretty. The polenta is generally bland and adding cheese and flavorful ingredients to it is a great idea. Also, serving it with a side of vegetables, eggs or meat makes it a complete meal. 


I first saw this dish on Foodgawker and I decided to make it. I bought myself a packet of polenta and it was in my pantry for a while. When Valli put up the theme for the BM as puddings, I read on Wikipedia that Polenta is a savory pudding. And because I already had two sweet puddings in mind, this was perfect for the third day. 

I quickly referred a couple of recipes and liked this the most. The recipe called for sautéed mushrooms. However, I had a lot of asparagus at home and decided to use that. The result was perfect and the polenta came out pretty well. 

Simply put, the recipe for polenta includes boiling the cornmeal with 3-4 times the water content, adding some flavoring and enjoying it with a side. That is what most recipes point to. And after trying it, I agree as well. Just be cautious, the gelatinous pudding will set really quickly. By the time I finished taking pictures, my polenta had almost set in the form of the bowl! So I thinned it out using some water and enjoyed it warm soon after. 


Variations

I used the medium coarse variety of polenta. If you would prefer a very creamy one, get the superfine variety. Besides, there are some stores that carry white corn polenta. Take that if you like white corn more than the yellow. 

As the polenta does not have much of a flavor in itself, use any sharp cheese to add some flavor. I used cheddar, but you can use another cheese of your choice too. Adding cheddar enhanced the yellow color of the pudding and made a perfectly bright bowl! 

For the sides, you can use a combination of vegetables or even salad leaves. Not only do they add some color to the dish, they are perfect compliments to the otherwise bland polenta. 


Ingredients

For the Polenta

Polenta 3/4 cup
Water 3 cups
Mild Cheddar Cheese 1/4 cup
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp

For the Asparagus

Asparagus 8-10 stalks trimmed and cut into 2 inches
Garlic 2-3 pods, minced
Onion 1/2 medium, minced
Olive Oil 1 tbsp
Salt 1/4 tsp
Pepper Powder 1/4 tsp
Oregano 1/2 tsp

Spring Greens 1/4 cup


Method

For the Polenta

In a deep pan boil 3 cups water with the salt. Once it starts boiling, add polenta in a continuous stream while whisking vigorously to avoid it from sticking to the base. 

Lower the flame to medium and cover the polenta. Cook for 30-35 minutes, whisking vigorously every 10-12 minutes to ensure they polenta does not stick to the sides or bottom. 

In 30 minutes the polenta should cook completely, and become creamy. Once it is done, add in olive oil and cheese; and mix once again to a homogenous mixture. 

Turn down the flame and set aside. 


For the Asparagus

While the polenta cooks, heat oil in a pan and add garlic. Once garlic becomes flavorful, add onion and sauté till it is translucent. 

Then add the asparagus, sauté till a little tender and add salt, pepper and oregano. Mix well and set aside. 

To serve, add the polenta in a bowl and top with some cheddar cheese. Finally place the sautéed asparagus and spring greens on the polenta and enjoy warm. I also served some freshly made ciabatta bread and balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side. 



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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Tropical Chia Pudding

Blogging Marathon #74 Week 4 Day 3
Theme: Are you Pudding me?
Dish: Tropical Chia Pudding

A delicious Chia and fruit based breakfast pudding that takes only a few minutes to make; is super delicious and Vegan too! 


Weekend is here and I am posting a special recipe that is perfect for weekend brunch. This week I am posting Puddings in the Blogging Marathon. Yesterday it was an Indian style Kesar Kheer that is perfect as a dessert.

Today it is time for another pudding. I was planning to make Chia Pudding since a long time. It was perfect for the theme and so I made it for Saturday breakfast. I told my husband that breakfast is going to be a pudding; and he was pretty amused! Not very common to have pudding for breakfast, right?

This one is made for breakfast! It has all the things that are good for you and free from ingredients you should not have early morning. Chia seeds are the seeds of Salvia Hispanica a plant related to mint. Native to South America, these seeds were important to Aztecs and Mayans back in the day. Infact, Chia means 'strength' in Mayan. 


These seeds have gained importance and status of superfood in recent times. All the stores are stocked with these tiny black seeds and suddenly everyone has included it in their pantry essentials list! I too joined the bandwagon, with chia seeds now being a part of my monthly grocery shopping. Put it in oats, have it as a pudding or replace it for sabja (Basil seeds) in Indian delicacies. 

Yesterday I made this Chia pudding with tropical fruits. I had a batch of roasted strawberries in my refrigerator. So I used them with kiwi and mangoes. Not only were  the colors perfect for the black and white pudding, the sweetness of mango and roasted strawberries was amazing with the slightly tart kiwi fruit. 

Now that I liked this version of the pudding, I think I am going to make it more often. It is perfect for weekday breakfast, just set the pudding the previous day and serve it with fresh fruits the next day. The time required to serve it in the morning is a fraction of the time required to make any other breakfast. 



Variations

I made the pudding with coconut milk. If you have a can of thick milk, dilute it using water else the pudding will be super thick and the chia seeds will not absorb the liquid completely. If you do not fancy coconut milk, replace the milk with any nut milk like almond or cashew. Else, just add regular milk if you are not looking for a vegan version.

Plus, I used the fruits that I like and had in my refrigerator. They can be substituted with fruits of your choice. All berries taste really good with the pudding. And lastly, I made a black and white basic version of the pudding. However, you can add any fruit puree to make the pudding of a different flavor. Or just mix in nutella and you get an amazing chocolate flavored pudding. 


Ingredients

Chia Seeds 3 tbsp
Thin Coconut Milk 2 cups
Honey 1 tbsp
Fruits to top (Kiwi and Mangoes)
Roasted Strawberries 2 tbsp
Mint leaves a few


Method


In a bowl mix together coconut milk and chia seeds. Let it stand for an hour. Then refrigerate overnight or atleast 4-5 hours; till the milk is absorbed and the pudding thickens. 

Remove from refrigerator and add in honey. Mix well and set aside. 

Chop mangoes and kiwis to small pieces. Add some chopped fruits and some roasted strawberries in glasses or mason jars. 

Top with chia pudding. Add some more fruits, some strawberries and mint leaves. Enjoy!





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