This is a classic Egyptian way to serve bread as a starter course, with other dips and “mezzeh” (appetizers), or alongside kebabs with a nice green salad. This is also a fun gift idea to make as a hostess gift or for holiday gift giving. Portion dukkah into small mason jars along with a nice bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil!
This dish won the Chef's favorite award from Alan Wong. Once you try this dish you will understand why.
Polenta squares topped with pesto or tapenade Yield: one 9”x13” jellyroll pan
Courtesy of Rebecca Woodland
Preparation time: 10 minutes cooking time + additional topping time
The secret to perfect polenta is patience! The water must be at a full rolling boil. The dry polenta must be sprinkled into the boiling water, a little at a time so the water continues to boil uninterrupted, until all the polenta has been added. If you try to rush this or ignore the directions, you will end up with a lumpy, disgusting mess.
1 cup dry polenta (La Favorita brand, any flavor)
3½ cups boiling water
½ tsp. sea salt
TOPPINGS: (your choice, do not combine)
or any other savory topping you like (* used in demo)
4 oz. goat cheese (enough for a dollop of goat cheese on each square)
To make a creamier, more flavorful goat cheese, add a drizzle of your favorite flavored olive oil and mix well before using. Try pairing your choice of oil to complement or match your topping.
- Bring 3½ cups water to a rolling boil. While water continues to boil, gradually sprinkle polenta into the boiling water, stirring continuously with a wire whisk. Do NOT “dump” the polenta into the water or it will lump!
- Add salt. Keep stirring. Cook about 3 minutes, until mixture begins to thicken.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Lightly coat bottom and sides of a large baking sheet/jelly roll pan with your favorite olive oil.
- Pour cooked polenta onto the baking sheet. Spread it evenly across the entire surface, smoothing the top. Set aside to continue cooling. Polenta will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Prepare goat cheese. Put it all in a bowl. Drizzle your favorite olive oil over it. Mix well with a fork.
- When polenta has cooled to room temperature, cut it into squares, triangles, or diamonds of equal size. Top with a smear or smidgen (not an actual unit of measure) of your favorite topping.
- Just before serving, add a small dollop of the goat cheese to each square.
You may want to “toast” the polenta in a 350 degree oven before adding the toppings. For a more festive touch, top each square with microgreens, a slice of grape tomato, or other tiny edibles.
2 pints Brussels sprouts (approximately 4-5 cups)
1-2 Tablespoon Maple Dark Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Trim up the stem end of the brussel sprouts and remove all wilted and yellow or brown exterior leaves. Cut large sprouts in half. Put the sprouts and on large sheet pan and toss with the butter or bacon flavored olive oil, (just enough to coat evenly) and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to brown the vegetables evenly, until crisp and slightly charred on the outside and fork tender on the inside. (Your cooking time will depend on the size of your sprouts.) Take them out of the oven, drizzle on a little maple balsamic check seasoning and adjust if needed. Best served warm. Enjoy!
Cooking Note: You can add in dried cranberries, garlic, onion, pancetta, or bacon crumbles if you want to bring it to the next level!