18 May 2013

Breakfast Polenta

The first question of the weekend is simple:  Sweet or Savory?  You wake up Saturday morning, stretch, pet the pooch/pussycat/parakeet/pet, and immediately begin thinking what kind of breakfast is going to help your weekend start off on the right side of the bed.  It's the most important meal of the day and an equally important question.  Sometimes a little something sweet hits the spot - tender french toast, sweet cinnamon rolls, scones with fresh jam.  But other days you may crave something savory - rich bacon, salty cheddar, soft poached eggs.  We usually tend to split up our weekends with one sweet, one savory (girl vs. guy....guess who's who?!)  And if it's a savory day, we often go with Breakfast Polenta.

Ahhh, soft polenta.  What a creamy, dreamy, buttery cloud of cornmeal magic.  We love this stuff.  My hubs has requested that we eat it more often, and I am a very happy wife to oblige.  As I am not a big fan of white potatoes, we rarely eat mashed potatoes at home.  Therefore, I think his request stems from the buttery potato void in his heart (but don't feel too bad...he can eat mashed potatoes at work whenever he wants).  We'll often plan ahead for this breakfast by making a extra big batch of polenta a few nights prior and storing the leftovers.  Then all you have to do is combine the leftovers with a little extra milk in a pot and stir, stir, stir....voila, perfect polenta days later.  

A savory breakfast in our household has two absolutely essential ingredients:  eggs and cheese.  No particular preparation or variety is required to satisfy our appetites.  Poached, scrambled, fried...melty, crumbled, sliced...we'll eat them all.  So naturally, on top of the polenta we have poached eggs and feta cheese.  I really like the firm, salty feta with the smooth polenta in this recipe.  It adds a wonderful flavor pop and textural variation to an otherwise very soft dish.  At times I also add little bits of bacon for their delightful flavor and crunch, but since we're in Meatless May I'm posting the recipe without.

Along with the feta, there are fresh tomatoes and quickly grilled kale.  But the pièce de résistance is the beautiful poached eggs perched on top.  Oh yum, how I love a soft poached egg.  These little pockets of protein with their lovely lava centers make any dish spectacular.  I don't care if it's plain toast, slap a poached egg on top and you have a divine snack.  Once cut, their lovely, rich yolks ooze out to create a wonderful sauce, tying everything together quicker than you can say "where's my fork?"  Trust me, you'll love this dish.

So if you're not feeling sweet, here's your something savory!

Breakfast Polenta (serves 2)

  • 1/2 c polenta
  • 1 1/2 c milk (fat free to whole - yogi's choice)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1 c kale
  • 1 small tomato (roma's are a perfect size)
  • 1/4 c feta
  • 4 eggs

Prepare your vegetables first.  Tear the kale leaves off of the stems and give them a rough chop.  You can discard the stems or save for future use.  Dice and seed the tomato, then set cutting board aside.

In a small pot over medium heat, combine the milk and one cup of water.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently so the milk doesn't scald.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the polenta and reduce heat to low.  Stir until the polenta has thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the butter and stir until completely melted.  Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Fill a wide, flat-bottom pan with about 2 inches of water.  Add a splash of white vinegar and set the pan over high heat.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high.  Crack one egg into a small ramekin or measuring cup.  Gently tip the egg into the boiling water, submerging the lip of the bowl slightly.  Repeat with the remaining four eggs.  Cook the eggs until set, about 3-4 minutes for runny yolks, before removing with a slotted spoon.  (If the eggs stick to the bottom of the pan, gently un-stick them after about a minute and a half with the spoon.)  Remove the eggs to a paper towel to drain excess water.

While the eggs are cooking, set a small pan over high heat.  As soon as its hot, add the kale.  Cook for a minute or so, tossing once or twice, until kale is bright green and starting to toast.  Remove back to the cutting board.

To plate, scoop about 3/4 cup of the polenta onto a plate and spread slightly with a spoon.  Sprinkle with kale, tomatoes and feta.  Top with two poached eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.  A little pesto on top would be wonderful, too.

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