A gorgeous dish that is as impressive on the plate as it is easy on the wallet, this can serve as a side dish to roasted chicken or stand on its own as a quick weeknight meal. I particularly like it crowned with a poached egg. Serves 4.
Polenta with Red Russian Kale Sauce
Adapted from The Art of Simple Food II by Alice Waters
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole-grain polenta
1 bunch Red Russian kale
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot, bring 3 1/2 cups of water to boil. Add the salt and then slowly whisk in the polenta, whisking and pouring simultaneously to avoid clumping. Continue whisking until the grains have hydrated enough that they won’t stick together. If you are unsure of how to tell, whisk for 30 second to 1 minute, and you should be fine. Turn down the heat to its lowest setting, cover, and cook at a bare simmer until thick and creamy. The time on this will vary, depending on your polenta, but you want the grains to be cooked through. If necessary, add more water during cooking, but keep it on the thick side.
2. While the polenta cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Gently tear the kale leaves from their center stems and then cook in the boiling water until just tender. Again, the timing will vary depending on your kale, but it generally takes just a few minutes. Drain the kale, reserving about a cup of cooking water, and place the kale in a blender with the olive oil. Blend until smooth, using the reserved cooking water as needed to aid blending.
3. Once the polenta is fully cooked, add the kale puree along with the cheese. Depending on how salty the cheese is, you may need another pinch or two of salt. Taste and adjust accordingly. Serve immediately, either as a side or a light dinner.
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