Spinach Polenta
April, 2007

Serves 10 / Made from coarse cornmeal (and enlivened with fresh spinach and chopped chilies), this polenta can stand alone or make a hearty companion to fish, chicken, or meat dishes.

2 pounds spinach, tough stems removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Fresno chili, minced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
8 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups slow-cook, coarse-grain polenta
4 tablespoons high-quality butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add spinach and cook for about 2 minutes, then drain. Spread out spinach on a large dishcloth; when cool, squeeze dry by rolling up in the towel.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil, chili, and garlic. Sauté 1–2 minutes, then add cooked spinach and a little salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute, until warm. Add milk or cream, stir, and bring to a simmer. Transfer contents to a food processor and blend till nearly smooth. Set aside.
3. Place 8 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Slowly pour in polenta, stirring until blended. Reduce the heat to lowest possible setting and cook polenta for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and Parmesan cheese. Stir in spinach mixture; taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Recipe provided by Hugo Matheson, chef and co-owner of The Kitchen, an eco-conscious eatery in Boulder, Colorado (www.thekitchencafe.com).

PER SERVING (1 cup): 214 cal, 42% fat cal, 10g fat, 5g sat fat, 23mg chol, 9g protein, 24g carb, 4g fiber, 473mg sodium