05 February 2012

grilled polenta with goat cheese, spinach & tomato chicken

For those of you who are not regularly enjoying all the delights that polenta has to offer, you need to get on board!  It is AMAZING!  You can have it soft, grilled, savory, sweet, for breakfast, dinner, dessert....whatever.  It's incredibly versatile, delicious and healthy, being high in vitamins A and C while low in sodium.  It is gluten free, so those with celiac disease or other dietary concerns can eat this scrumptious dish.

But wait...what is polenta?  

Basically, it's cornmeal.  Super cheap, super good, super versatile.  Also super quick and easy.  Welcome it into your heart, home and tummy!

This post is actually two different recipes.  Both are great on their own, but come together for a filling, healthy and delicious dinner.  I used left over polenta, so it was already prepared, and the chicken cooks in a crock pot while you're away at work.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to put this all together and on the table, making this an excellent weekday meal.  I love to use goat cheese with this because of its rich and tangy flavor.  It adds creaminess to the dish since it melts between the hot polenta and spinach.  So good!  However, if goat cheese just doesn't billy your goat, you can use any other soft cheese you like.

Grilled Polenta with Goat Cheese & Spinach (4 servings)
  • 1 cup instant polenta or cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 c frozen spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c goat cheese
Spray a pie pan with non-stick and set aside.

In a saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  You can also use chicken or vegetable broth for a slightly richer flavor.  Add the salt and slowly whisk in polenta.  Reduce heat immediately!  This stuff gets very thick very fast, and does not feel good when a bubble pops and sprays hot cornmeal onto your arm.  Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the polenta is thick, anywhere from 2-5 minutes.  

Pour the polenta into the pie pan and smooth the top.  Cover and let sit until firm, about 25 minutes.  (This is a great night before step as it keeps perfectly in the fridge.)

Place a grill pan or skillet over medium high heat.  When hot, spray with non-stick.  Cut polenta into 8 pie-shaped pieces, and place on grill pan.  Grill for 6-8 minutes or until brown, then flip and grill the other side.  

While polenta is grilling, heat another pan to medium.  Add spinach and garlic  and cook until hot, about 4-5 minutes.

Remove polenta from heat.  Place 2 wedges on each plate and top with 2 tablespoons of goat cheese.  Spoon the hot spinach on top and serve.

Sounds good, doesn't it?!  Well, how about topping that delicious, grilled, creamy, garlicky polenta with some tender, moist, healthy chicken breast and tomatoes?  I say most definitely.  

Crock Pot Tomato Basil Chicken (4 servings)
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I love Glenn Muir)
  • 2 - 3 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 - 2 tbs dried basil, to taste
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the crock pot and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes, garlic, basil and chili flakes.  Cook on low for 6-7 hours.  If you are using chicken thighs, cook for 8-9 hours.

Chicken will be super tender and falling apart.  Scoop from crock pot with a slotted spoon and serve over the grilled polenta with spinach.  Also great over rice, garlic mashed potatoes or grilled veggies.

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