Blogging: so many great ideas and so little time. So it is always a pleasure to actually make the food I drool over rather than just dreaming about it. I made these polenta cups with pea puree just a few nights ago. I had seen Kristy post about polenta cups only the day before and was excited about the idea so I wanted to share it.
Kristy had made polenta cups with smoky bean chilli filling but she had got the idea from Rachel Ray who had baked them with an egg inside them. It seemed such a brilliant idea that I wish I liked eggs. Fantastic for gluten free diets! I had been thinking about making a green pea and bean spread inspired by these dips. This appealed to me as a filling for the polenta cups.
My other inspiration was Ashely at Eat Me Delicious. She had recently made a Herbed Cauliflower with Capers and Lemon. What interested me was her comment that she enjoyed it with quinoa, cranberries, feta and walnuts. What a combination! It appealed even more when Lisa announced the theme for the No Croutons Required Event that she and Holler organise each month. This month it was to be a soup or salad with berries. It is not berry season here so I drew a blank. Then I thought that cranberries would fit the bill and it gave me the perfect excuse to try a version of Ashley’s salad.
The polenta cups and cauliflower salad paired wonderfully, tasting both delicious and healthy. By the time the cups came out of the oven we were hungry. Even a gentle knife to lever them out of the muffin tins was too harsh for these soft cups. The first one out collapsed completely. The second wobbled like the bottom lip of a baby about to cry, but it held together enough for photos. Leaving them for 20 minutes till I prised them from the muffin tin and then baking them another 20 minutes made them just the right crispiness and shape (as you can see on the photo). I am not sure how this extra baking would affect an egg in the polenta cup but it worked fine with the puree.
Now that I have discovered these polenta cups, I want to try them in other ways. The possibilities are endless. I am interested to try them in my silicone mould mini muffin cups. I think they might come out easier that way. Another idea is to put them in cupcake papers. They would be a great for entertaining or lunchboxes – actually I had one cold for breakfast and it was great. Rachel Ray served hers with egg in the cups and sausages on the side. I would like to try these with quiches or chlli non carne. I have even wondered about a sweet version with custard or berries. Making polenta is so easy since I have started making it in the microwave and, since my niece was diagnosed as a celiac, I have been interested in gluten free recipes.
The salad was also gluten free, as many salads are. More importantly, it was delicious and seasonal. I used some herbs from the garden. I was not brave enough to include capers. I don’t use capers much and was not sure they would taste right with the cranberries, feta and walnuts. I also didn’t do the quinoa that Ashley suggested because I wanted to keep it simple, but with quinoa this salad would be more substantial. But the salad, with the polenta cups, makes a most pleasing meal.
Polenta cups with pea puree
(inspired by Rachael Ray)
Makes 8 cups
½ cup polenta
1½ cup stock (or water and salt)
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated*
2 cups peas, lightly cooked
400g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp lemon juice
generous pinch cayenne
1 tsp garlic flakes, crumbled
¾ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp soy sauce
* other grated cheeses would work well too - or omit cheese to make vegan.
Microwave polenta and stock (or water and salt) for 3½ minutes – stirring every minute till a porridge consistency. Stir in parmesan cheese. Check seasoning. Spoon into greased muffin tray (mine made 7-8 cups). Use back of spoon and/or fingers to mould into cups. Set aside.
Make pea puree by blitzing all ingredients in the food processor.
Fill the polenta cups with pea puree and smooth on top with the back of a spoon (Use leftover puree as a spread if you have any). Bake in 220 C oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sit for about 20 minutes. Carefully remove from muffin tray with a knife. Place on greased tray and return to oven for 20 minutes or until crisp on the outside.
Serve warm or room temperature with salad and chutney. These would be good as part of a buffet, for breakfast or in your lunchbox.
Cauliflower, Cranberry, Feta and Walnut Salad
(adapted from Eat Me Delicious)
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and chopped
1 handful fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley, chives, rosemary and thyme)
¼ cup cranberries
¼ cup walnuts, chopped
70g feta cheese, crumbled
juice of half a small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
Steam cauliflower (I did it in the microwave) till tender. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve warm or at room temperature.
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The Captain: Kasey Chambers
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