Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grits Gratin with Arugula, White Beans, and Garlic

Last week, when we made the Fried Chickpeas with Chorizo, I went out to the store to try to find another kind of sherry.  We only had really dry sherry, and Mark Bittman explicitly said not to use dry sherry for that recipe, but to use a sweeter one (Amontillado, or Oloroso were the two he suggested, but I couldn't remember those names at the store of course).  Well, I came home with a bottle, only to be dismayed when Joe pointed out that I had purchased a very nice bottle of sherry VINEGAR.  Crap.  I wasn't even in the right part of the store.

In the end, we used the dry stuff in the Chickpea recipe and it turned out just fine.  I picked a recipe this week that specifically called for sherry vinegar - since I bought such a nice one, might as well make the most of it!

First, you need to make Polenta, so that's the first recipe.  Next, combine your polenta with garlic, white beans, and arugula (or spinach, if you are like me and can never find arugula when you need it, but see it all the time when you don't!) and you'll get a really warm and yummy meal!

Grilled or Fried Polenta
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4

1/2 cup milk, preferably whole
1 cup coarse cornmeal

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, two cups of water, and a large pinch of salt.  Once it is just boiling, slowly pour in the polenta while whisking to break up clumps.  Turn the heat down to low, simmer, whisking often, for about 10-15 minutes or until thick.  Add more water if the mixture becomes too thick.  When it's done it should taste soft and smooth (not crumbly), and be the consistency of thick oatmeal.  Pour into a loaf pan and smooth out the surface as best as you can.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes (he says it can sit there all day, so that gives you an idea of how far in advance you can make this).

Grits Gratin with Arugula, White Beans, and Garlic
adapted from Mark Bittman - How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
Serves 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups arugula leaves (our store didn't have any, so we used spinach)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked white beans
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 recipe Polenta, made with grits and molded according to Grilled or Fried Polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Lightly oil a shallow 2-quart gratin dish or oblong baking pan (we had to use a 2 qt. square baking pan because that's all we had).

In a large, deep skillet, heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add the garlic and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and starting to color.  Turn off the heat.  Add the arugula, beans, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir gently a couple of times.  Spread the contents of the pan onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Drizzle with the vinegar.

Turn the grits out of the pan and slice into 1/2 inch slices (I had to clean the knife off halfway through, it got all gummed up with grits).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Carefully lay them on top of the arugula, overlapping if necessary.  Drizzle with the remaining two tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with the cheese.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.  Serve with lots of black pepper.

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