Polenta, Spinach, and Savory Sauce

Barbara said she wanted Polenta last night, so I made a version that we really liked, featuring a savory sauce I just invented.

The polenta part was relatively easy: 1 cup of medium stone-ground Italian cornmeal and three cups of liquid (2 cups water, 1 cup Rice Dream — rice milk).  Bring water, and rice milk to a boil, add some salt, slowly drizzle the cornmeal into the pot, and stir constantly while it simmers, at least 15 minutes — or longer — until it is smooth and creamy.  If you are feeling in a not-so-vegan mood, add 3/4 cup of fresh Asiago cheese, cut in cubes, and about 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, stirring into the polenta until it melts.

Wash a bunch of baby spinach and wilt it in a covered hot skillet with 1-2 Tbs. olive oil.  Cool and coarsely chop the spinach.

The fun part was the sauce.  We had some sliced sweet onions left over from pizza on Sunday, so I sautéed them in olive oil until tender and lightly browned.  Next I added a roasted, peeled red pepper (Greek, pre-packaged), chopped up and mixed with the onion.  When those flavors were well-blended, I cut up a flavorful tomato (Kumato brand is a good one this time of year), and cooked that until dissolved with the onion and pepper.  Now for the secret ingredient: red onion jam from Calabria.  These are made from small red onions that grow in Tropea, Calabria, and carry the special IGP status.  I had purchased a small jar recently, and I thought they would perk up the sauce.  Zing!

The final dish was assembled in a pasta bowl.

Polenta in the bowl-2 Calabrian red onion jam

I decided to go with a white wine and selected a Loire Valley natural wine, a 2011 Mineral+ from Frantz Saumon, from organically grown fruit in Montlouis — pure Chenin Blanc and quite stunning.

Mineral+ Montlouis-Loire

I liked the sauce so much, I decided to replicate it again tonight for a quick dinner tonight, this time with Swiss Chard and the leftover spinach, atop gnocchi.  The wine was also Calabrian, Jan D’Amore’s 2003 Polpicello from Odoardi.

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