As the nights warm and summer’s official arrival date quickly approaches, I find myself craving lighter fare (especially during weeknights). I decided to take polenta – a side dish that’s known to play a part in heavier meals (when coupled with something like braised chicken or short ribs)- and make it summer-appropriate. When paired with light, flaky Cod, roasted-thyme vegetables and a glass of rosé, the creamy parmesan polenta instantly transforms from a Winter to Summer dish.
CREAMY PARMESAN POLENTA
1 cup corn meal or corn grits
4 1/2 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (I prefer using beef or chicken stock for more flavor)
1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp salt.
Directions: Heat 4 cups of stock to a boil. While whisking, slowly stream 1 cup of corn meal into the boiling stock. Add the 1 tsp. salt. Whisk to prevent any clumps, then reduce the heat to low and switch to using a wooden spoon to stir.
About every 5 minutes, check on the polenta and give it a good stir. Make sure to scrape the sides down and the bottom of the pot. Around the 25-30 minute mark it will LOOK done, but keep cooking until around the 40-45 minute mark (I promise it will be that much better!). Have a 1/2 cup of stock reserved handy on the side, this way if at any point the polenta looks too thick, add stock a little at a time to loosen it up and keep it creamy.
Once the polenta is cooked (about 40-45 minutes), turn the heat off and add the Parmesan and butter and stir. Taste and add more salt if needed.
1 cup cherry tomatoes
8 ounces Crimini mushrooms, cleaned
Handful of thyme sprigs
Salt & pepper
Directions: Toss the tomatoes and mushrooms with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs. Roast in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.
5 Cod fillets, aboout 5 ounces each
Directions: Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron pan. Sear the cod on each side. Once seared, place the cod fillets on a sheet pan and finish cooking in a 350 degree F oven for 7 minutes.
FOR ASSEMBLY: Layer the creamy polenta on the bottom of the plate or serving dish, add the thyme-roasted vegetables and then place the Cod on top. Garnish with pea shoots for extra color and freshness. Serve with a crisp, refreshing glass of rosé.