Seeded Polenta with Simple Spring Ragu & Pea Pod Cream
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
 
Serves 2-3
Ingredients
FOR THE POLENTA
  • 600 to 620 ml / 2½ cups water
  • 100g good quality polenta (see above)
  • A scant ¼ cup mixed seeds (sunflower, chia, sesame...)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • (For a non-vegan version: 3 heaping tablespoons grated pecorino or parmigiano)
FOR THE SPRING RAGU
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ small onion
  • 200g shelled fava beans
  • 200g fresh peas, shelled
  • 5-6 wild asparagus spears (optional)
  • ½ cup vegetable stock (or water plus ½ teaspoon veg bouillon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE CREAM
  • The pods from the peas
  • ½ small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup packed basil leaves, chopped
  • 3-4 long chives, chopped
  • Salt to taste
ASSEMBLY
  • Extra virgin olive oil (preferably garlic or basil flavored)
  • Fresh chives and chive flowers
  • Shaved pecorino or parmigiano (skip if keeping vegan, and use toasted seeds instead)
Instructions
MAKE THE SPRING RAGU
  1. Add the olive oil and garlic to a pot and heat the oil on medium low, until the garlic sizzles slightly and flavors the oil.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add the fava beans, peas, asparagus if using and stir well. Cook for a couple minutes, then add the stock/water and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked, about 10 minutes. Check for salt.
MAKE THE PEA POD CREAM
  1. If you cannot be bothered to make this, use any good pesto instead of this.
  2. Remove all the strings from the pea pods. Add the pods, onion and stock to a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the pods are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock, and blend with the basil, chives and a good pinch of salt. Add a little stock of the cream seems to thick, but we are aiming at a fairly thick consistency.
  3. Pass the cream through a sieve, pushing it with the back of a spoon, to get rid of all the stringy parts of the pods.
MAKE THE POLENTA
  1. Add the water to a pot and bring to a simmer - not a boil. When bubbles appear on the bottom of the pan and the water smokes, start adding the polenta, little by little, and whisking constantly and vigorously. This is important to avoid the formation of clumps. Bring the heat to low and stir well. Add the seeds, oil and salt, and stir well again. Let the polenta cook for about 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Refer to the instructions on the package for exact cooking time. If you want to use cheese (super tasty addition) stir it in when the polenta is almost ready. When the polenta is ready, immediately transfer it to a serving dish. If you time things right, you should have all three parts of the recipe ready at the same time.
  2. If you're not keeping the recipe vegan, add a couple tablespoons of grated pecorino or parmigiano when the polenta is done cooking, and stir it in. Delicious!
SERVE AND GARNISH
  1. Spoon the pea pod cream (or a little pesto if not making the cream), then the spring ragu on top of the polenta. Drizzle with good extra virgin olive oil, preferably basil or garlic or lemon flavored, and chopped chives and chive flowers. If keeping vegan, sprinkle some toasted seeds. Otherwise, some pecorino or parmigiano shavings would be great!
Recipe by Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini at http://hortuscuisine.com/blog/2017/04/20/polenta-seeds-simple-spring-ragu-pea-pod-pesto/