Monday, December 29, 2008

The Light Simple Dinner That Wasn't

It has been a chaotic couple of weeks. There are parties and dinners and holidays and so much happening that it isn't easy to cook meals. When I do want to cook, I want things that are light, simple, and don't create tons of leftovers.

I had this idea that I should make an egg dish. Egg dishes are easy, quick, and can make for a very light supper.

Last night I kind of missed the mark on that idea.

I had this idea in my head of putting eggs on a square of polenta. I guess I have been watching too much Top Chef. I wanted something with a showy presentation. I was also inspired by that breakfast amuse bouche episode. Eggs benedict on polenta sounded like a good idea - but not if I wanted Sir Pickypants to eat it. I considered eggs florentine instead.

This dish had a few components in it, so it wasn't that quick. It also contained butter and cream and cheese, so it wasn't so light. I missed the mark, but it was a good meal.

It needs no recipe. I'll just give some illustrated tips.

Is it polenta, or is it grits? I like how these people settled the controversy.

Cook up a cup of polenta in three cups of water (this is for four servings). Just throw the polenta in boiling, salted water and keep stirring until it gets thick and holds together.

Once it's cooked, add in a half a stick of butter and a half cup of grated parmesan.

Next spread it in the bottom of an 8" x 8" pan. Stick it in your fridge and allow it to cool and become a nice, solid slab. Use the time to upload your photos from last night's dinner.

When it's cool, cut it into squares and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut a tomato into thick slices and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. This is a neat trick for improving the bland flavor of winter tomatoes.

Stick your polenta squares and tomatoes into the oven for about 10 minutes. You may want to put the polenta under the broiler for a minute or two to brown the top.

Keep warm and reduce the oven temp to 35o degrees. (Of course if you have two ovens you can do this next part at the same time.)

Now mix one package of baby spinach with about a half cup of cream, two finely minced cloves of garlic, a tablespoon or two of freshly grated parmesan, some salt and pepper and a few grates of nutmeg.

Place spinach mixture in a small baking dish or ramekin or any other small, oven-safe cooking vessel. Crack an egg on top.

Place in the oven until egg is set to your liking.

To serve place a couple of tomato slices on top of a polenta square and top with egg and spinach.

When my husband ate this, he said it was like having a 5-star restaurant in his own home.


Emily said...

Look at you with your fancy schmancy meal! It does sound like something they'd make on Top Chef.

Well now I'm hungry for polenta. I even have some in the pantry!

Lo said...

Well, isn't that gorgeous?!
I love this idea... and it certainly elevates a bit of humble polenta!!

The Blonde Duck said...

What is polenta? My sister made polenta apple cobbler the other day and it was really good!

Bunny said...

This does look like a 5 star restaurant meal! Great job!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Em - If you didn't have any in the pantry, I'd tell you to raid mine. I still have tons of the stuff.

Lo - thanks. It's funny how polenta started as a peasant food and now it's thought of as high end.

Blondie - Polenta is coarse yellow cornmeal that is usually cooked into a hot cereal form. It's the same thing as yellow grits, although neither American southerners nor Italians want to admit that.

Bunny - TY!

Sue said...

Did you get his comment in writing? I love that dish. It has some much good stuff in it and it's plain and fancy at the same time. Yum!

Have a wonderful New Year!

Peter M said...

Rachel, this does look awesome and I'm glad Mr. Pickypants enjoyed it!

Happy cookin' in 2009!

Stacey Snacks said...

I love polenta and only just started making it.
Your dish came out beautiful!!!
5 stars all the way!

Anonymous said...

This is a great dinner or brunch idea. As two folks from the South, we love a bit bowl of grits. We think it would've been equally as fabulous!