Warm polenta with freshly harvested fennel and radish
Have you ever grown radish? My Nan used to grow them along the driveway of her home when I was a kid and I could never quite work out if I loved their peppery, crisp bite or disliked it. The favoured way to eat them was rinsed and dipped in a little salt – straight in your mouth from the garden. I have never been inclined to grow them until I got a free pack of seeds with a magazine and had an empty garden pot that needed filling. They got off to a shaky start when they first went from the seed tray to the pot with some snails trying to devour them. I added some blood and bone around the base and watered them every few days. They quickly doubled and then tripled in size, ready to harvest after approximately a month from planting the seed (or less I forgot to write down the date I planted them) Anyway, they grow fast! I collected a gorgeous crop ready to use for dinner. The lack of rain and heat has been wreaking havoc with my spring garden. In addition to harvesting a big bunch of radish I have some fennel plants beginning to grow tall and thin instead of fat and bulbous. I collected the largest of those and created this side dish for dinner.
Baked, or grilled polenta has been one of my favorite things this year. If you make a batch it can be used for multiple meals across the week. The easiest way to do this is to cook it and pour it into a lined tray to set in the fridge, once set slice into strips for chips or cubes. To use on another night, put some into a sauce pan with some water to loosen and heat it to serve with a slow cooked meal, or instead of potato.
Baked polenta is the easiest method if you don’t have time to watch over it. Add the strips or pieces to a baking tray drizzled with a little oil (or this is my addictive recipe for polenta chips) and cook on a medium high heat for approximately 25 min while the rest of dinner is being assembled. Alternatively if you prefer a charred flavor add it to a griddle pan turning often until charred on each side.
I wasn’t convinced this combination of ingredients would work with the polenta until I took a bite. It was a fabulous combination. Fresh and sweet, crunchy and a little sharp with the creamy smokey polenta, it works a treat. I hope that you get to give it a try.
- 1 cup of fine polenta
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons shaved parmesan or haloumi cheese
- 1 small carrot shaved
- 2 medium radish finely sliced
- 1 small fennel finely sliced
- zest of 1 orange
- juice of ½ orange
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- coconut oil for baking or grilling the polenta
- fresh fennel fronds chopped to serve
- *Prepare the polenta ahead of time*
- To make the polenta add the water to a saucepan and bring to the boil
- Add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking as you add
- Reduce the heat by half and continue to whisk (spitting polenta cooked at too high a heat burns when it hits you!)
- Whisk until the polenta absorbs the water and begins to move away from the edge of the pan
- Add the butter and cheese and continue whisking/stirring with the whisk until the mixture is smooth and creamy looking
- Remove from the heat and pour into a slice tray lined with baking paper, smooth the surface and add to the fridge to cool
- Combine the carrot, fennel and radish into a dish
- Combine the orange zest, juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar and pour over the carrot, fennel and radish. Stir to coat and combine well
- When the polenta has cooled cut into the desired shape. If you are char grilling brush each side with coconut oil and cook on a medium high heat until browned/charred. If baking in the oven add a little coconut oil to the base of a baking tray and bake for 25 min until golden
- To Serve:
- Add the baked or grilled polenta pieces to a serving tray and top with the vegetables that have been soaking in the dressing
- Top with fresh fennel fronds.
Cook time includes the time to initially cook the polenta and then to char grill it.
Serve with a main of your choice such as chicken or fish, or on it’s own as an appetizer.
Are you growing radish? What is your favourite way to eat them? Please tell me in the comments below.
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