Sunday, November 1, 2009

Polenta with White Beans, Braised Kale, and Roasted Pears

If you follow this blog at all you know that I usually don't mess around with fussy presentations or preparations. But, you also know that I like to watch Top Chef. The last episode featured Natalie Portman, a vegetarian, but I found the dishes presented to be pretty disappointing so I thought I would take a try at something more fancy. The dish started with wondering about how roasted pears would taste . . . .

Makes 10
Roasted Pears
- 6 Bartlett pears, cored, diced
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


- 2 cups water
- 1 cup plain soy milk
- 1 cup polenta
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- salt and pepper to taste

White Beans
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, thinly sliced
- white wine
- 1 tomato, small dice
- 1 19oz can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper to taste

Braised Kale
- 6 large kale leaves
- white wine
- dash of salt

1. Pears: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced pears in oil and vinegar and spread out on a baling sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 30 mins, turning pears regularly. Keep warm.
2. Polenta: Grease 10 large muffin tins. Bring water and milk to boiling. Slowly whisk in polenta and reduce heat to med-lo, stirring frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 15-20 mins, until soft and thick. Add spices and season to taste, then transfer into the muffin tins. Let cool, remove from tins, then keep warm.
3. Beans: While polenta is cooking, make the beans. Heat oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Fry leeks for 2-3 mins, until staring to go golden, then add a big splash of wine. Let cook dry, then repeat until leeks are softened (about 5 mins). Add tomatoes and another splash of wine and let reduce a bit. Add beans and a last splash of wine, then let cook for 5-7 mins until tomatoes have turned into a thick sauce. Season and keep warm.
4. Kale: Remove tough stalks from kale leaves, stack leaves, then roll up. Thinly slices rolled leaves. Heat a frying pan over med hi heat. Add kale, a generous splash of wine, and a dash of salt. Let cook for a min or two, until kale is soft but still bright green.
5. Place polenta on a plate, then top with beans, then kale, then pears.