February 22, 2012
Polenta Torte with Goat Cheese Sauce
I love the idea of this. Another perfect concept for using up leftovers. It also tastes wonderful.
The polenta acts as a neutral ingredient to balance the layers of meats, vegetables or seafood, just as pasta does. I have seen polenta lasagnas but the they can never make a thin enough layer of polenta required and I personally think the cheesy bechamel along with the polenta is just 'too much'.
This time around I had 1 slice of country ham, a container of roasted peppers and sauteed Swiss Chard. All things I had used in other dishes. Not enough for a meal on its own but perfect as a layer.
The roasted pepper is a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C (more then an orange), Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin B6 and Folate and the Swiss chard is a good source of Folate and Zinc, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, and Copper along with the same minerals and vitamins as the peppers. A virtual nutritional powerhouse.
Wonderful foods, eat them often especially if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Polenta fills the void since my restriction of pasta, and the fact that I love it as much as, makes me a happy and satisfied foodie.
I actually love the process of making polenta with stone ground cornmeal, that slow low-heat constant stirring style polenta. Something soothing about it.
I used to be a food snob and even though there really isn't any comparison, the instant is better than nothing (just remember the instant is processed more so not quite as beneficial for us diabetics).
Nowadays there is no excuse in making the stone ground because I have perfected the baking process here and it works extremely well.
While the polenta is simmering, get your layering ingredients out and ready.
I baked mine in a throw away aluminum loaf pan for two reasons, my regular loaf pan is larger then I needed and polenta doesn't like to stick to aluminum so unmolding will be a cinch.
The original recipe called for the use of grits (which are white), I imagine, because it was going for the colors of the Italian flag, but I used the yellow. Trust me on this, made with any color cornmeal, the result is spectacular!!
A wonderful brunch or lunch course, we ate it for dinner. The addition of a bowl of soup or a salad would work for those who would need more substance.
I would love to give credit to the person who developed the original recipe and I know the snipped recipe was in Gourmet, 20-25 years ago. I had no luck, but I tried.
The sauce, although only 3 ingredients was the perfect foil for the lightness of the torte, the polenta became fluffy in texture and the vegetables, added a nice freshness. I will be making this many times, playing with the layers to include meats or seafood.
I covered the pan with foil and placed it in a water bath for 30 minutes and it heated all the way through but not enough to dry it out. BIG HINT: Have a spatula at least the size of the slice. Important if you expect to keep your slice intact. The torte may look sturdy but is quite delicate.
Polenta Torte with Goast Cheese Sauce
* 4oz pancetta or bacon, chopped (I used ham)
* 1/2 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained and salted
* 4 cups water
* 1 cup milk
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 cups stone ground cornmeal
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/2 cup drained raosted red bell peppers, jarred or homemade
* 1 cup whipping cream
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used a butter sub)
* 4 oz soft mild goat cheese
In a heavy saucepan, bring water to a simmer and while stirring, gently pour the cornmeal in (the Italians say 'like it is raining')
Once it starts to bubble, lower the heat and cover, stirring every 5 minutes until the polenta is creamy and all the grains are hydrated, about 40 minutes. You could also bake it (link above).
Mix in the ham, the cheese and a teaspoon of butter (or sub).
Remove from heat and using a 2/3 cup measuring cup, make your first layer in the loaf pan.
Use an offset spatula to spread the roasted peppers across the polenta in a single layer, to about an 1/8" from the edges. Spoon another measuring cup of polenta over the peppers and repeat, covering from edge to edge. Next layer is the greens, then repeat with the last of the remaining polenta. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 3 hours to set.
45 minutes before serving, place the loaf pan in a larger baking pan and fill with boiling water to half up the side of the torte.
Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and test with a knife. If the knife is warm to the tip, the torte is done. If not, place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
Heat the sauce ingredients until it bubbles. Spoon about 1/2 cup sauce onto your plate, gently slide the slice onto the sauce and serve.
Place any extra sauce in a gravy boat and enjoy!!
I am sending this over to Cream Puffs In Venice for Magazine Mondays.