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Polenta gratin with greens and goat cheese

January 14, 2009

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Serves 6

Make the polenta up to half a day in advance.

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups coarse yellow cornmeal (polenta)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large bunch hearty greens such as Swiss chard, collards, or kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces, well rinsed
3 roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1. Have on hand a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Use some of the olive oil to oil it lightly.

2. Bring 4 cups of the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring often. The polenta will be very thick.

3. Spread the polenta evenly in the dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and thyme. Cool, and chill, unwrapped, until firm.

4. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Cut the polenta into 6 squares; cut each diagonally into triangles. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet. Set the triangles on the sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until they are beginning to brown.

5. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the greens, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, or until the greens start to wilt. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water to the skillet. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, or until the greens are quite soft.

6. Remove the sheet of polenta from the oven. Lay several strips of roasted pepper on the triangles and set the greens on top. Crumble a little goat cheese over the mixture. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Arrange 2 triangles on each of 6 warm plates. Adapted from "Cooking With the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta"