I know that as an American, it is really hard to avoid corn products. Corn syrup, corn oil and other types of processed, extracted, sweetened and hydrogenated corn seem to make their way into almost every packaged food item in the store. Corn is the top agricultural crop in the US. I’m not sure if this has lead to the appearance of corn in everything, or if the demand for corn lead to the increased growth.
Although I try to avoid corn byproducts that have snuck into un-corn like items, I do have a soft spot for things that are supposed to have corn. Like corn on the cob, corn bread, corncakes, or grits. And polenta. Especially polenta. I think this latest polenta-kick was inspired by a salad eaten at a restaurant. Most salads are not necessarily memorable. This one was. At least, the polenta croutons on top of the salad were. And they’ve been haunting me ever since. So it seems that these little bitty croutons are what has inspired a corn resurgence in my kitchen.
With polenta croutons dancing in my dreams, I thought I’d try my hand at my own.
Polenta cakes with Zucchini Ribbons
Loosely inspired by a post I saw here
1 c. cornmeal
4 c. water
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil (optional)
1. Bring salted water to a boil in medium saucepan.
2. Stir in cornmeal.
3. Lower heat to simmer.
4. Continue to stir regularly to prevent cornmeal from sticking. Add butter or olive oil if using.
5. Half cover the pan to prevent splashing.
6. Simmer to 30-40 minutes until water is absorbed and polenta has thickened to desired consistency.
7. Grease baking pan with butter or olive oil.
8. Pour polenta into pan, use spatula to spread it out evenly.
9. Let cool and harden in pan.
10. Slice into squares of desired size.
11. Polenta can be eaten this way, or toasted in the oven or on the grill for additional crispness and flavor.
For Zucchini Ribbon topping
1 good sized zucchini
1 red pepper
1 can white beans or canellini beans
1/2 c. shelled pistachios
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter or olive oil
1 Tbsp. vermouth or dry white wine
bunch mint, chopped
bunch parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cut zucchini into sections approximately 5 inches long. Thinly slice each of these sections into wide zucchini ribbons.
2. Chop pepper into small chunks.
3. In frying pan, heat 1 tsp. butter (or olive oil) over medium heat. Add pistachios.
4. Stir nuts and keep a close eye on them. They quickly go from toasted to roasted! Pull them off the heat just before you think they’re cooked as they will continue to cook after removed from heat.
5. When nuts are golden brown, put to the side for later.
6. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat.
7. Saute zucchini ribbons in olive oil for 2-3 minutes.
8. Add red pepper and continue to saute.
9. Add white beans and vermouth.
10. Add chopped herbs, salt & pepper.