Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Polenta with Chard and Feta

Those big bunches of rainbow chard are just too pretty not to buy now and then! And the garlic that is getting pulled now is just about mature, but it is fresh when you get it at the market, rather than dried and cured for storage, as it will be later in the season. The stalk is no longer edible, and the cloves will have to be peeled (the outsides are too tough) even though the skin is not papery yet. Chase Hill Farm is a good source of local feta.

3 cups water
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 cup polenta cornmeal
Olive oil
1 small head fresh garlic (or 4-5 cloves), minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bunch chard, coarsely chopped
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
Black pepper to taste
3/4 cup tomato sauce
3 oz. shredded mozzarella

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, and whisk in the polenta meal. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir with a spoon. Be careful, as the cooking polenta is viscous and can bubble up and burn you. Cooking time will vary with the type of polenta you are using. The kind I get at Green Fields Market, in the bulk section, thickens up very quickly. You want it to be pretty stiff for this application. When the polenta is cooked, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for now.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add the chard, in batches if necessary, and cook until wilted. Add freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Drain off all the excess liquid.

Preheat the broiler while you assemble the dish.

If you were using a cast iron skillet to cook the vegetables, clean it out and dry it. Otherwise, use a comparably sized pan (7x11-inch is good, 8x8 is a little small). Lightly oil your pan, then press the polenta into the bottom of it and smooth it into a relatively uniform layer. Top with the tomato sauce.

Spread the chard mixture over the tomato sauce, sprinkle with feta, then top with mozzarella.

Put the whole thing under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot.

Serves about 4.

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