Fried Polenta with Raw Beet Sauce
Polenta is a great alternative when you’re bored with pasta, rice or bread. It works well as a side dish but could also be served as a main course. As an added bonus it's gluten-free, which is very convenient if you're serving it to someone with allergies.
I got a little lazy so I did not cook and form logs of polenta myself; I used store-bought instead. The taste doesn't differ that much, except when I make my own, I usually add a bit of butter , cream and Parmesan cheese for extra flavor. The pre-cooked version is much healthier.
To ensure the success of this dish, the key is to make plenty of sauce to enhance the flavor of the polenta. This time around I made pesto, but with a twist. I made it with raw beets, then sautéed some button mushrooms and melted goat cheese. The combination of both mixtures made the perfect sauce for this polenta.
Yields: 6 servings1 (18-ounce) package pre-cooked polenta, store-bought
1 beet, peeled and shredded
1 lemon, zested and freshly squeezed
¼ cup ground hazelnuts (see tips)
6 tablespoons hazelnut oil (or any flavorful oil)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese (see tips)
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons curly parsley, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
For the raw beet pesto:
Reserve about 1 tablespoon of parsley for garnish.
In a food processor, combine the shredded beets, lemon zest, lemon juice and hazelnut oil. Pulse until smooth. If the spread is too thick, add up to 2-3 tablespoons of water for a smoother flow. Add ground hazelnuts, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a bowl.
For the polenta:
Cut the polenta into 1-inch slices, then cut each slice into quarters. Brush them with olive oil.
In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil. Pan-fry the polenta pieces until slightly golden and crispy.
Transfer to a serving platter, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Season with salt. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the shallots. Cook the shallots until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushrooms soften. Add the goat cheese, then lower the heat. Let the cheese melt. Turn off the heat. Add the pink pesto and using a spatula, gently fold the pesto into the goat cheese mixture.
Pour the sauce over the polenta. Garnish with more curly parsley.
Serve at room temperature.
How to make hazelnut flour: You can either buy ready-made hazelnut flour or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 50 grams of whole hazelnuts to get the correct amount of flour. Place whole hazelnuts in a metal bowl, then cover them with boiling water. Let it sit for no longer than 2 minutes. Strain and transfer them into a cold water bath. Pat them dry on a towel, and the skins should come right off. Then grind them with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into nut butter. The result should be a fine mill.
If you decide to serve the polenta as an appetizer, you can cut the polenta into French fries-shaped strips using a carving vegetable knife and serve the beet pesto sauce on the side in a dipping-sauce bowl.
Published By: on September 21, 2011.