This polenta crouton salad was my dear friend Carole's idea. Carole is the editor of PhamFatale.com, and someone recently gave her the title of "Literary Swiffer," which I completely approve of. She always comments on the meals I feature on the website. When I posted polenta fries, Carole suggested another version I hadn't considered. She used to eat at a Mexican restaurant in San Francisco that served polenta croutons in their salad and she told me she could have made a meal on the croutons alone!
To make the dish, cubes of polenta are deep-fried until crisp and tossed with mixed alfalfa sprouts, home-grown Sugar Sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh cubed mango and a bit of cheese. Thanks for the inspiration, Carole!
Servings: 6 servings
1 (18-ounce) package pre-cooked polenta
1 clove pickled garlic, finely minced
1 cup vegetable oil
3½ cups mixed sprouted greens
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
¾ cup cubed mango
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ cup diced sweet cheese (see tips)
½ teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1 tablespoon curly parlsey, finely chopped
¾ cup your favorite vinaigrette
For the polenta:
Cut the polenta into 1-inch slices, then cut each slice into cubes. Brush them with oil.
In a small non-stick pan, heat the oil. Pan-fry the polenta pieces for 5 minutes until golden and crispy. Stir the polenta croutons and continue frying until completely crisp and golden.
Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Toss well.
Transfer to a serving platter. Add the tomatoes, pickled garlic, sweet cheese, mixed greens, parsley and mango. Drizzle with your favorite salad dressing. Toss well.
I used store-bought sundried-tomato and garlic polenta. You can find it at Trader Joe's.
I used Karoun brand sweet cheese. You could replace it with any soft cheese such as mozzarella.
If you're not allergic to gluten, you could sprinkle the polenta croutons with a dusting of all-purpose flour prior to frying them.