2 cups polenta or cornmeal (whichever you have on hand)
1½ cups water
1½ cups 2% milk
2 cloves garlic, halved
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup cheese of your choice (I recommend either an asiago blend or goat cheese—two different flavors, but equally good)
1 large bunch kale or chard (or combination of both)
2 cloves garlic
½ cup roughly chopped walnuts
¼ cup golden raisins
Olive oil to coat pan
Salt and pepper to taste
1½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon honey
Pour water into a small saucepan and add the two cloves of garlic and the salt. If using polenta, which will yield a coarser (but no less delicious) mixture, add the polenta along with the water. If using cornmeal, which will be a thicker and smoother consistency, bring the water almost to a boil before adding the cornmeal. Once you have the polenta or cornmeal in almost boiling water, turn the heat down to low and stir in the milk. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture no longer has any crunch to it. This will take less time with a fine cornmeal, so just keep stirring and checking until it is done to your liking. If the mixture seems undercooked but dry, stir in a bit more milk. Once the polenta is cooked, turn off the heat and stir in the butter and cheese until melted. Finally, pick out the chunks of garlic.
Rinse and de-stem kale (no need to de-stem chard—the stems are the tastiest part). Stack leaves on top of each other and cut through them all at once to make thin strips. Set aside.
Finely chop garlic. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat and coat with just a bit of olive oil (just about a teaspoon to keep the garlic from burning). Add the garlic and the chopped walnuts and toast, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until garlic starts to brown and you can smell the walnuts. Add the raisins and sauté one minute. Add the greens and immediately begin to move them around the pan to distribute the heat and the flavor from the garlic.
Once the greens have wilted a bit (about 2 minutes), add the balsamic, soy sauce and honey, then stir. The addition of liquid will quickly finish wilting the greens. Just another 45 seconds to one minute and the greens will be done.
Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and top with a generous helping of the greens, a drizzle of olive oil and fresh black pepper. Enjoy as a quick weeknight dinner alongside chicken or fish and have leftovers for lunch the next day!
Altadena native (and former Hometown Pasadena intern) Laura Derr has started Laura’s Mobile Kitchen, a private cooking instruction service.
Read this week’s “Creative Type” interview with Laura here.
For more information about menus (Laura’s site is currently listing sample menus for fall and winter) or to inquire about pricing and a free consultation, visit LaurasMobileKitchen and her Facebook page.
Photo top right (spoon of polenta) by Andrew Scrivani/New York Times