Monday, May 23, 2011

Spicy Polenta Casserole

My life right now goes something like this... wake up, drink copious amounts of coffee, go to work, run around all day, come home and watch something really educational like one of the many Real Housewives shows or ANTM (and the girl I liked tooooootally won on ANTM last week- woot!), then I hole up in my room and write grants until midnight while Charlotte stares at me balefully, collapse in bed. Rinse. Repeat.

You will notice that description does not include things "make delicious, creative, healthy meals every night, take pictures of them, and write clever posts about them". My actual dinners are focused more on what I can make that I can then microwave servings of for days on end. Fortunately for you, one of these actually turned out to be super delicious and now you get to read all about it.

What you need:
For the polenta:
1c cornmeal
2c milk (I used almond milk)
1.5c water
1/8c grated Parmesan
1/2c shredded cheese (I used the Trader Joes Quattro Fromagio, which is a staple around here)

For the filling:
a whole lotta chopped cleaned stemmed Kale (or, green of your choice)- probably 6 cups
1/4 onion, chopped
a little oil for browning the onion
1 package "Soyrizo" from Trader Joes*
1/3c water
1 tbsp butter (or, butter-like substance- I used Earth Balance)
pinch of salt (don't need much, what with the cheese and chorizo and all)

*now, you could use regular chorizo, but seriously, have you ever read the ingredients in that stuff? I mean, I'm not a vegetarian, but, man, that stuff is terrifying. The soyrizo is actually awesome, spicy, and unless you are a chorizo aficionado I doubt you can even tell the difference (but, your arteries can!). just try it.

Preheat the oven to 400. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.

First, you're going to make the filling.  Heat the oil, and cook the onion until translucent and soft. Then, toss in the soyrizo (don't put in the casing! it's plastic!) and stir it around. Put the kale in, put in the water (so it can steam a little) lower the heat, and cover the pan. When it is still pretty bright green, but is soft, uncover it and let it sit.

Now, you need to make the polenta (my instructions, and general inspiration, came from the Food Network). Boil the water/milk/salt. Turn down the heat, and slowly pour in the cornmeal, stirring as you go. Keep on stirring it, and it will thicken- you want to keep stirring because if it's lumpy, it'll be gross. It'll become kind of like the texture of boxed cafeteria style mashed potatoes (sticks together, but still stirrable), and then you're done. Stir in the cheese and the butter, and really mix it up.

Next, pour half the polenta in the pan, put in the entire kale/chorizo/onion mixture, and spoon on the rest of the polenta, you'll probably need to spread it around with a spoon. Then, bake it in the oven for 20-25min, it should be nice and golden brown. Wait a minute, then serve!

It was sooo good! Something about the cheeziness and the cornmeal and the spicy chorizo.. mmm. It also microwaved really well (which was important because I ate it for quite a few dinners/lunches that week). This could actually work as a breakfast casserole, it might go well with scrambled eggs. Also, if you want to use it as a side dish you could leave out the chorizo (the original recipe didn't have it). But, honestly, it was delicious, and I wouldn't if I were you. Anyways... try it!

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