Sunday, December 23, 2012

Butternut Squash Polenta with Sage and Gruyere

You say parsnip addiction, I say parsnip penchant.

We could agree to disagree, or you could surrender to reality. The proof is in the polenta. 

Olive oil
1/2 butternut squash, diced (about 1.3 lbs)
1 large parsnip, diced (about 10 oz.)
1 tbsp pastured butter
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage or a little more (older sage is far less potent, so nibble a piece to taste and adjust if necessary)
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta)
2 cups veggie or chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (about 2 oz.)
2 handfuls baby arugula, chopped (about 2-3 oz.)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Heat a wide saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil. Add the squash and parsnip and toss to coat lightly in oil. Cook, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the squash begins to take on some color and the pieces are tender (about 7-12 minutes. If your pieces are larger, you may need to cover the pan after they've browned a bit and use the steam to get them to cook through).

Push the veggie to the side of the pan and melt the butter on the other side. Add the sage, stir once or twice, then toss with the squash and parsnip to coat. Sprinkle with salt and turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of broth plus one cup of water to a rolling boil in a pot. While stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the polenta in a slow stream. Continue to stir constantly, turning the heat down slightly, for 3-4 minutes or until the polenta thickens to almost (but not quite) the desired consistency—think spreadable but thick. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and arugula.

Combine the polenta and the veggies in either pot. Stir, and adjust sage and salt to taste. Serve immediately, with freshly ground white pepper over the top. Garnish with a little chopped arugula if desired.

Serves 2 for dinner.

(Note that polenta doesn't reheat well, so if you end up with leftovers, one idea is to press them into a square tupperware, refrigerate, and then slice the block that forms into cakes that you can fry in a little olive oil the next day.)

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