Skip to content

Creamy Green Polenta

…from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cowgirl Cuisine, by Texas foodie and writer Paula Disbrowe

6 cups coarsely chopped greens, such as cavolo negro, kale, collards, chard, or a combination, rinsed {Mustard greens are also great in this recipe, and I’ve doubled the greens with great results! -bg}
4 garlic cloves
kosher salt
6 purple or orange carrots, sliced into batons
2 yellow bell peppers, sliced into strips
olive oil
1 cup good-quality Italian polenta
2 fresh bay leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 pequín chiles, crumbled, or crushed red pepper flakes

1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Blanch the greens and garlic cloves for 3 to 4 minutes (the greens will be slightly softened and bright emerald). Drain in a colander. Fish out the garlic cloves, transfer them to the bowl of an electric food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. When the greens are cool enough to handle, use your hands (or a clean dish towel) to squeeze out any excess moisture. Transfer the greens to the food processor and sprinkle with salt. Process until very smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside until needed. (The greens can be puréed a day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.)

2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the carrots and peppers on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Use your fingers to toss the vegetables until well coated with the seasonings and oil. Roast the vegetables for about 45 minutes, until tender and caramelized, flipping with a spatula every 15 minutes or so for even browning. Cover with foil and keep warm in a low oven (place the serving plates in the oven as well).

3. While the vegetables are roasting, make the polenta. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the polenta thickens considerably and begins to pull away from the sides of the pot, about 45 minutes. If the polenta gets too lumpy, use a whisk to smooth it out. If it gets too thick, add more water, as needd, to maintain a creamy texture. When the polenta is cooked, stir in the puréed greens and cook another 6 to 8 minutes, until heated through. Stir in the Parmesan and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. To serve, spoon a generous pool of the polenta onto a warmed plate. Top with equal portions of the roasted vegetables, an additional drizzle of olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan, and crumbled pequín chile or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.