Polenta & Black Lentils | Parsley Salsa | Candied Citrus Slices
Recently Mark Bittman wrote about savory breakfasts as part of his quest to shift diets from meat, fat, and sugar heavy foods to fresh vegetables, grains, and legumes. Patrick got extremly excited about the idea, especially since we had just made a bunch of polenta and black lentils for dinner that week, and decided to make a breakfast with the left overs. I found this extremely funny, and pointed out that I had been serving him an identicle breakfast for several years now. So to remind him, and to tribute Mark Bittman’s quest, I decided to put it on the menu for this week. This dish at its simplest is broiled polenta and black lentils topped with a little cheese and an egg, but it’s easy to spruce it up a bit for company with something inspiring like Felicia and Kelly’s Parsley salad. It’s also something you can make in a huge batch and store for the rest of week as a quick breakfast in the morning, or lunch in the afternoon, or base for dinners and salads. It may be the most flexible meal I’ve encountered. This recipe makes about 8 servings.
Baked or Broiled Polenta
Before we get started, let me explain a little about baking/broiling polenta for anyone who hasn’t done it. Polenta thickens over time and becomes solid enough to cut, handle, and bake, but the texture will be consistent throughout. The longer you let it sit, the easier it will be to handle, I usually let it sit over night. When you bake it, you begin drawing the water out of the center and crisping the outside into a chewy skin. The longer it is in your oven, the chewier the outside becomes, and the thinner the inside becomes. So, depending on how you like your polenta, or how many people you need to accommodate, you can do this multiple ways. When I am making this for myself I prefer to cook the polenta on broil in the toaster oven for about a half hour. It gives it a thick skin and a soft thin inside. Last weekend, I baked it for about an hour in the oven while preparing other things which baked it almost all the way through, making it crisp and chewy, almost like a sort of salty bread. You can also broil it, creating a quick skin on the top while saving the a good portion of the soft interior. This last method is usually best, though not very energy efficient if you are just making a single serving, and not very effective if you are making 16. If you plan to bake it for a long time, and make it SUPER chewy, I suggest cutting it into half inch strips to make it more manageable to eat. I did not, and I think it was difficult for people to get at while eating on their laps and trying to have easy conversations.
Baked or Broiled Polenta Ingredients:
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cup of polenta
- 2 baking sheets
Baked or Broiled Polenta Instructions:
- in a medium saucepan heat 4 cups of water, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and several cracks of fresh black pepper until boiling
- whisk in 1 cup of polenta and stir until thickened
- remove from heat and pour onto an ungreased baking sheet
- allow to sit overnight, covered in your refrigerator, or for at least one hour
- cut into 8 pieces and place evenly on two baking sheets brushed with olive oil, brush the tops of the polenta with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt and black pepper
- bake according to taste: broil for 5-10 minutes in your oven’s broiler, or individually for 30 minutes in a toaster oven broiler, or bake all at once at 425 for 40 minutes or until crispy.
- top with black lentils, eggs, cheese, or any kind of green or salsa (grilled asparagus is delicious!)
Black Beluga Lentils
This is a very simple way to quickly cook some lentils as a side dish instead of a soup. The resulting dry, firm, lentils add a wonderful textural experience to any dish, while the flavor of black lentils is adds the classic peppery taste. You can add any vegetables you find your refrigerator, but I recommend at least adding 1/2 an onion and 2 carrots.
Black Lentils Ingredients:
- 1/2 and onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 cup of black lentils
- 4 cups of water or stock on reserve
Black Lentils Instructions:
- in a medium sauce pan sauteé the onions and carrots until they just begin to caramelize
- salt them liberally and add the lentils and one cup of water
- as the water absorbs, add more, repeating until the lentils are just cooked (think pasta) and the remaining water has been cooked off (about 20 minutes)
- serve as a side dish or over polenta with eggs and vegetables
This salsa was inspired by Felicia’s video at Meal Ticket. That parsley salad looked delicious I wanted to try something similar, and I was definitely rewarded. It turns out, parsley is an excellent compliment to a hot dish! It doesn’t wilt when sandwiched between hot foods, and the flavor is both subtle and distinct. I might have found a new favorite.
Parsley Salsa Ingredients:
- 1 bunch of flat leafed Italian parsley
- 1/4 red onion
- 1 lime
- 2 scallions
- 5-6 fresh green beans
Parsley Salsa Instructions:
- pinch the leaves off the parsley and set aside in a medium bowl (try to get as little of the stems as possible
- dice the quarter onion as finely as possible and add to the bowl
- thinly slice the scallions and add to the bowl
- remove the ends from the green beans and thinly slice them into small rounds, mimicking the sliced scallions
- mix the ingredients together adding a squeeze of lime and salt to taste
Candied Citrus Slices
Again I have to admit I am not much of a baker, though I recently realized part of the problem is my oven which likes to heat irregularly. Because of this, I’m not going to include a pound cake recipe. I was unimpressed with the one I used, and can’t think of any additions to make it better. BUT, I am happy to share my experience with candied citrus, and the trick to adding it to a pound cake instead of icing.
Candied Citrus Ingredients:
- 1 orange, lemon, or grapefruit preferably a variety with very few seeds
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 3 cups of white sugar
Candied Citrus Instructions:
- in a wide, heavy saucepan bring the water and sugar to a boil until sugar dissolves, then lower to a soft simmer
- slice the citrus as thinly as possible, discarding the seeds as you come to them
- add the sliced citrus to the simmering sugar, careful to stagger the rings in the pot, and cook until the pitch becomes clear (depending on the width of your pot and type of citrus, this could take 5-20 minutes)
- if you plan to use immediately, stab the top of your pound cake all over with tooth picks creating lots of deep small tunnels into the cake, and spoon the candied citrus on top using as much syrup as need, but careful not to make it soggy
- if you plan to use it later, ladle it into a clean sanitized 8 oz jar, seal the lid and immediately invert the jar for 15 minutes. When you right the jar it should be safe to keep at room temperature for up to 18 months. Discard left over syrup, or save for drinks.
On Monday I used a bunch of the left overs to make a salad with the greens Emily K. brought. On top of the bed of greens, I added strips of left over, unbaked polenta, cold leftover lentils, slices of her vegan sausages (which were unbelievably good), and some of the parsley salsa. I topped it with a little bit of lemon, salt, and olive oil, and let me tell you… it was the best most filling salad I have had in ages. I highly recommend trying any of these ingredients in your next salad.