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Creamy Polenta with Broccoli Rabe and Tomato Ragout (Cooks Illustrated)

November 2, 2011

Tonight, I leafed through the new Cooks Illustrated covering Italian cuisine. I HIGHLY recommend it, in fact I insist that you RUN to the store and buy it before they disappear. I love the show America’s Test Kitchen, which is connected to Cooks Illustrated. I am not precise myself, nor do I like to spend my evenings trying a million methods of making a dish. What I like about Cooks Illustrated is that they experiment for you, and give you the recipe and approach with the best result. Why reinvent the wheel, when someone else has done all the hard work for you?

This month’s magazine examines Italian cooking basics, along with a few more elaborate recipes. Much of their tested advice rung true to how my mother and grandmother cook, and their well-researched methods create a perfect meal. Although not all the dishes are vegetarian, enough of the articles relate to vegetarian foods that make it a worthy purchase. I plan on keeping it with my cookbooks. So, for dinner we made the Creamy Polenta with Broccoli Rabe. The combo of creamy and buttery corn polenta with the semi-bitter broccoli rabe made a fantastic dish. We both loved it.

The Polenta is a no-stir recipe, which is fantastic for people who need to chase down toddlers. It is made with grits instead of plain cornmeal, at a different ration than traditional grits, and with a pinch of baking soda.  I made one or two alterations to the recipe. Their broccoli rabe is made with sundried tomatoes, which AAM is not a fan, so I substituted grape tomatoes. I also added in onions, to let them simmer. Otherwise, I have to give credit to Cooks Illustrated for the fantastic recipe. We really loved it. I recommend buying the magazine, since it goes into the science of cooking polenta, and is very interesting for those who want to master it.

Creamy Polenta with Broccoli Rabe and Tomato Ragout

For Polenta:

  • 7.5 cups of water
  • 1.5 tsp table salt
  • pinch of baking soda
  • 1.5 cups of cornmeal/corn grits/polenta
  • 2 cups of Pecorino cheese
  • 3 tb butter
  • black pepper

For Ragout:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 pt of grape tomatoes sliced
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe sliced
  • 1/2 cup of veggie broth
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of pine nuts

1. Boil the water in a saucepan. Slowly add the polenta, baking soda and salt. Let boil and stir for 1 minute. Then lower the heat to the absolute lowest setting, and cover  for 5 minutes. Whisk out the clumps thoroughly, and recover for another 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a saute pan, saute the onions in olive oil. When they are translucent, add the sliced grape tomatoes. Let simmer for twenty minutes. When cooked, add the broccoli rabe and veggie broth, let cook for 2-4 minutes over medium heat. Let the broccoli rabe turn bright green.

3. Serve the veggies over the polenta, with pine nuts and black pepper.

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