Tag Archives: Polenta

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart

This tart was an experiment of combining two recipes and it worked a treat! It all came about after dedicating precious hours, during Rafaela’s nap, to clean the pantry out. Prior to this I had found a trail of ants marching their way in and was baffled as to what they were after. A few months earlier, we had the same scenario and I realised they were all over the jar of honey!

So after pulling it apart and reorganising (also a very timely exercise since returning from Costco), I found too many half full bags of pastas, rice, noodles and polenta. I thought it wise to start fresh and finish them all off. In addition to this, the hubby had returned home with a bag of silverbeet earlier in the week. He actually thought it was spinach and for a long time so did I.

So what is the difference? Well sliverbeet is from the chard family, closely linked to beetroot. They have bigger stiffer leaves with white stalks and it needs to be cooked before eaten. This is due to the high level of Oxylic Acid. Spinach on the other hand has small, soft leaves and can be eaten raw in salads. Both are great sources of Iron and Folate. Depending on the recipe it can be pretty interchangeable; therefore a spinach pie or tart can easily use both.

It is just this scenario that inspired me to develop this blog. I would find all these various ingredients and just Google them in one sentence and see what comes up. I also reach for Stephanie Alexander’s ‘The Cook’s Companion’ to filter an expansive list of ingredients. I found a polenta crust from Donna Hay and a spinach & ricotta pie from Teresa Cutler’s ‘Healthy Chef’ blog. Added some lemon, garlic and parmesan (yep the freezer is pretty similar to the pantry at the moment, too many half full bags of cheese!) and we had a pretty tasty dish for the family.

I really liked the polenta crust, it was a great way to use the grain and it added a cheese like depth of flavour to the dish. I served the tart with a tomato and balsamic vinegar salad. It felt very light and fresh and best of all, Raff gobbled it down!

Polenta Crust Spinach & Ricotta Tart (Serves 12)

Polenta Crust

½ cup (75g) plain flour

1 cup (170g) instant polenta or cornmeal

120g unsalted butter, softened.

½ cup of water

Sea salt

Filling

500g baby spinach or silver beet (Swiss chard) – remove stalks and slice

1 leek sliced

1 garlic clove crushed

450g fresh ricotta

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

½ cup of Parmesan

Handful of fresh basil

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt & Pepper for seasoning

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. To polenta crust, place the flour, polenta, butter, water and salt in the food processor and process until a dough forms. Press the dough into 24cm loose bottom tart pan (or grease a round cake pan). Top the dough with non-stick baking paper and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the paper and weights or beans and bake for another 10 minutes or until crisp.

To make the filling, sauté the leek and garlic in a pan with a splash of olive oil until soft. Add the spinach or silver beet to pan and season with salt & pepper, nutmeg and basil. Cook until wilted, remove for the heat and drain any excess liquid.

Add the ricotta, lemon, parmesan and mix through until combined. Spoon the filling into the pastry lined pie shell and bake for 35-40 minutes in preheated oven at 180 degrees until golden.

The making of the tart - Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

The making of the tart – Pie Crust, Finished Tart and Mixing up the Silverbeet

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Cheesy Polenta Slice

I must say juggling motherhood and working has taken its toll. Not to mention the sickness rotating through the household at the moment. Rafaela is the little outbreak monkey; bringing home all these random diseases and the constant runny nose. ‘Hand, foot and mouth disease’ what the hell? Sounds worse than it is…I would pride myself on being quite healthy, I have avoided countless bouts of the infamous man flu. However the combination of being exhausted and never fully recovering from one sickness to another is definitely making life that little bit more dramatic.

We’ve had some big changes of late. I went away for work for 5 days and Andrew played Mr Mum and Dad, he’s now decided number 2 addition to the family is on hold indefinitely. Ha!

Rafaela has sprouted a tonne of teeth, along with being sick, this has led to a fair few sleepless nights, vaporisers and a heap of Panadol. It has also been very challenging to get her to eat anything than puree and spaghetti. Nothing orange or green gets past her so we’ve had to get pretty creative these days. It has been a huge learning curve for us. Every meal these days seems to start with the refusal to sit in her high chair (this resembles planking) Then watching her (like a hawk) to take the first bite to then try for the second and it’s a blatant refusal.  We are then cleaning up countless bowls of food thrown across the room, arguing over the options in the freezer, to then release her from her chair and the screams that can only be described as her being tortured, to then have her just want to eat something from a packet. It is not uncommon for the whole family to be in tears by the end of this… and that was just breakfast.

Now, the little devil is walking! It has been a process as many mums and dads will know; starting with the shuffle across the furniture, then the two hand hold, then the one hand. We went from big steps to little more controlled steps and then we had the downward dog moves that took her from sitting to standing on her own. All amazing feats, and then last night in the corner of my eye I see her get into her tripod position, stand and then take off! She was practically running and on a mission to nowhere. She was just so excited to be moving. It was hilarious and charming all at once. So with all these changes, I am feeling the need to be as simplistic as possible. This leads me to the below recipe for Cheesy Polenta Slice. It is extremely easy to make, it just needs at least 25 minutes of your attention.

Ingrediants

1 cup of polenta
1 litre of water
3/4 cup of parmesan cheese
3/4 cup of a cheddar, tasty or mozzarella cheese
3 good pinches of dried oregano
Cracked pepper
Butter

Method

Bring the water to boil and slowly while whisking add the polenta. Reduce the heat and Continue to whisk the polenta for 10-15min so you don’t get any lumps. Remove from the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. While it may look cooked it’s important to cook the polenta for close to 25min otherwise it will be heavy and grainy.

Add the cheese, oregano and pepper stir to combine.

Line a small rectangle baking tray (The silicon trays work a treat), smooth out the polenta into the tray and allow to set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When ready slice up into fingers or use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes out of the polenta. Melt a dollop of butter in a non-stick pan and fry up the slices until golden brown.

Serve up with pasta sauces, fresh tomato salsa, or with roast veggies. You can also add cooked veggies to this dish before setting in the fridge, consider; pumpkin, carrot or zucchini

You can also freeze the polenta. I find it easier to package the individual portions in foil and then defrost in the fridge or microwave before crisping them up in some butter.

Cheesy Polenta cut using a cupcake cookie cutter

Cheesy Polenta cut using a cupcake cookie cutter

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