Friday, March 30, 2012

Free-For-All Fridays

This is the second time I am taking the liberty to tell you whatever I want, and I'd like to use it to tell you about the awesome dinner I made last night. I'm very proud of myself for this meal. Until recently, I'd gone through a bit of a slump (that's putting it nicely!) with my cooking. Awful, really inedible, meals. But lately, I seem to have gotten my groove back!
I was inspired by this post over at She Breathes Deeply to re-visit some of my old favorite vegetarian/vegan dishes and I remembered this comforting and delicious dish I had run across a few years back: beans and greens over polenta. It was nice to have an idea for dinner!
I ignored the recipe I had followed previously (though it had come out splendidly) and simply started reaching for things - the bag of corn grits, a can of tomatoes, the bunch of kale in the crisper. Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps) I was out of beans of any kind so I start surveying the fridge for alternatives. Artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese. Sounds like a Mediterranean party to me. So I struck forward boldly, with chef's knife in hand, and my courage was rewarded.

First, I started the polenta (according to package instructions - essentially one cup of corn grits to three cups of water). Then I sauteed some chopped onion, kale and garlic in olive oil.

I added some Italian seasoning to my polenta and turned the heat down to low. You have to let it cook and thicken for about 30 minutes but be careful! It bubbles and pops like crazy. Stirring more frequently is better than less to help release the trapped air. Once it thickened, I spooned it into an oiled bowl and let it set up for about ten minutes. Flip it onto a plate and - voila! - you could have bought it at a store. I cut mine into pie shaped wedges to serve.

While the polenta was thickening, I chopped up my goodies of choice: the artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, and sun dried tomatoes. When the onions were translucent and the kale softened, I added them in with a can of diced tomatoes and let it all get friendly for about ten minute (these were the same ten minutes the polenta needed to set up).

A little chiffonade of basil: stack, roll, chop.

To serve it, I placed two wedges of polenta - points to the center - on a plate, laid my Mediterranean filling across, and topped it all with my pretty basil ribbons and some fresh feta cheese. Mmmm. It was so good. And pretty, too! It seriously made my night.


The only other thing I wanted to tell you today was that my cactus finally bloomed. This is actually a very big deal. I've had it for three years and... nothing. A couple months ago it grew a big bud but it withered and fell off without ever opening. Finally - finally! - it opened this past Saturday - for my birthday, no less! - and it is so pretty.

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