And, finally, it rains. Not so joyous an occasion for sun bathers, felines, and other bitter Betsy-types, but most of California breathed a slight sigh of relief when the skies opened up this morning. My reaction? “I don’t have to water my plants!” and a beer was opened in observance of this glorious day. So, I’m in the celebration camp, but probably for the wrong (read: lazy) reasons.
I know it will be hard, but try not to be too jealous of this awesome meal I just consumed. I can feel your efforts straining across the world wide web, and I pity you.
I felt inspired by a friend’s description of his Tuscan dinner as the best dinner this year, so I decided to grab that metaphorical bull by his gnarly horns and craft my own. It almost proved impossible as my cupboards are fairly dismal, but being resourceful and so fabulous, I made the most of what I had. The result?
The Odd But Delicious Creamy, Lemony, Chick Pea, Spinach, and Arugula over Garlic Polenta. That is the full title.
If you know me at all kitchen-wise, you know it’s very difficult for me to use recipes. Cooking is like Jazz music, baking is like Classical. There is a time to improvise and a time to follow the rules, and cooking with rules is like drinking non-alcoholic beer: where’s the fun? Tonight was no different: I looked at what I had, closed my eyes, and ate the result.
Half-way through this experiment I was thinking it might be one of those nights where I try and feed my cat one of my failed attempts at genius, but I was so very wrong. My thinking all along was to have a creamy, garlic-y polenta with some form of chick peas on top. To make it saucy I mashed up about half of the peas and added lemon juice, wine, and cream. The greens gave it color and a good bite from the arugula. And it all took about 10 minutes. If you’re into meat then I would add some grilled chicken, possibly marinated in some garlic-rosemary-buttermilk.
For the chick pea extravaganza:
1 shallot, diced
2 T olive oil
1 15oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 artichoke hearts, cut in half
1 handful spinach
1 handful arugula
1/4 c white wine
1/4 c lemon juice
3/4 c cream
Mash about half of the chick peas.
If you want this to be really smooth I would recommend blending them with the lemon juice. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over med-high heat.
Saute shallots until translucent and add the chick peas.
Cook until hot, then add the wine and reduce a bit. Toss in the lemon juice and continue cooking until everything “comes together”; ie when it starts to look like a cohesive mass and not separate ingredients, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and artichoke hearts and let cook until thickened.
Turn off the heat and add the greens, mixing until it’s one dreamy mass of delicious.
For the polenta:
3/4 c dry polenta
2 cups hot water
1/2 c cream
1 head garlic
Salt to taste
Cut the top of the head of garlic off (a few millimeters worth, just to expose the meat inside), drizzle on some olive oil, and wrap in foil. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes.
Pop them out of their little sleeves, then mash with some salt and olive oil until it forms a paste.
Bring the water and cream to a boil in a medium sized pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer and slowly whisk in the polenta.
Simmer and stir constantly until it is thick and creamy, 3-5 minutes. You’ll know that it’s done when you look at it and say, “wow, I want to eat that right now.”
Stir in the garlic paste.
Dish up some grub and dive in.