Archive | June 2020

Polenta-Kissed Spinach

I’ve been away, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking.

So much has transpired since I last posted. Too much to recount… Tending to a host of health issues became a full-time job and that included returning to nourishment, on all levels, which meant the real beginning of nourishing me – body, mind, and soul.

I was forced, literally, to do a reset and though that journey was definitely not an easy one, there were many gifts along the way.

Food, a rediscovery of it, re-interpretation, re-engagement, and re-integration, was one of them and of course, recipes like this one.

I was cooking one evening a recipe I hadn’t made in a long time, not because it wasn’t a favourite, but because my compulsive need to keep experimenting with new and different recipes and love for diversity has both blessed and cursed me with many favourites to the point that there are beloved recipes we don’t return to for years.

That dish was one of its victims. This time, due to a strict food regime to fix severe stomach issues, I sadly adapted the recipe to accommodate my dietary restrictions at the time. As I stood at my stove, hovering over the dish, it came to me, polenta-kissed spinach.

Over dinner, I told this to my husband and on the weekend it became our next weekly brunch feature. Fresh spinach normally abundant was difficult to find that week, but on one of our daily walks, we happened to stop in at the grocery store and managed to procure the required bundles.

In my mind, the spinach was silky, loose, and just barely coated with a thin sheen of polenta. To be clear, it was a spinach dish kissed with polenta and not intended to be polenta containing spinach (though this is now on the list to make because I’m really loving this duo).

We came home and commenced the now insanely long process of properly sanitizing the greens for safe consumption. I embarked on making the dish fully expecting to make adjustments along the way to match the picture in my head. My husband was close by taking notes and carefully tracking ingredients and amounts and on standby to revise accordingly.

Never before has a recipe come together so effortlessly. Every ingredient and measurement was correct from the start, and nothing needed adjustment, nothing. It turned out, on the first attempt, exactly as I had envisioned.

As usual, I was telling my mom about our brunch meal when later we spoke and she fell quiet. When I inquired about her silence (extremely rare for my mother), she responded she was remembering back to her grandma, who used to make this dish for her when she was a child. Then, it was my turn to fall silent. My mom had never mentioned the dish, nor made it for me growing up, and she explained that she had even forgotten about it, but concluded she too would resurrect it. I have always said that food is extremely powerful, particularly as a connector, on many levels, including our past, and the long ancient lineage of ancestral wisdom.

To say I love spinach is an understatement. I have fond memories growing up of my mom making mounds of spinach for me, simply blanched, seasoned with salt and drizzled with olive oil. I would eat mounds of it. Couldn’t get enough!

I now have yet another way to enjoy it, except now it has a little bit more substance and a lot more character. It’s simply gorgeous as a side dish and stunning as an ensemble for brunch, particularly with poached eggs. Such a beautiful way to get my fill of spinach, eat my spinach, and pay hommage to my ancestors. Thanks great grandma.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

 Olive oil  1 tbsp
 Garlic, clove, minced  1
 Water  1 cup
 Chili flakes  pinch
 Salt  1/2 tsp
 Black pepper
 Cornmeal  2 tbsp
 Spinach  2 bunches
 Juice, lemon  1/2 tsp
 Olive oil (if needed)  1 tbsp

Directions:

  1. In a medium, but deep skillet, over medium heat, heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add water and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add chili flakes, salt and black pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Add cornmeal and cook for 8 minutes.
  6. Remove half the polenta from skillet and reserve for later use.
  7. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
  8. Return to skillet other half of the polenta and fold into spinach until coated.
  9. Add lemon juice.
  10. Add olive oil if required.
  11. Divide spinach into two bowls.

Serving suggestion:

  1. Top with 2 poached eggs.
  2. Season eggs with salt, black pepper and paprika.
  3. Garnish dish with parmesan and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Serve with a piece of toast cut in half.