The cherry blossoms and dogwoods are out, the daffodils and crocuses are up, and while it’s not truly warm yet, New Yorkers are dressing like it. I guess there’s a fake it ‘til you make it element at work here, but I’ll keep my spring jacket on until we hit 70, thanks.
While this is an awkward wardrobe crossover time, it’s also a food crossover time. While it’s warmer during the day, the temperature still drops in the evening. I want to eat gems like peas and asparagus, but I still crave the warmth of stodgy carbs like polenta. So this recipe is a mash-up. A winter base—hot polenta given a bit of wintery weight with smoked mozzarella and chopped fresh rosemary and a springy topping—simple sautéed vegetables and sweet, sautéed shallots. And a fried egg for good measure.
The onset of April was particularly exciting this year since many of my friends are expecting babies in April and May. Two weeks ago, one of my dearest friends had her baby boy, a little treasure they named Oliver Grey.
I was overjoyed when she asked me if I wanted to come to the hospital to meet him.
When I walked into the hospital room, I couldn’t see him. He wasn’t in the bassinet; he wasn’t in anyone’s arms. “Where is he?” I asked. “Here!” she pointed to her left thigh. He was swaddled up and tucked in, resting against her leg. At 5 pounds 8 ounces, he’s about the size of a Chipotle burrito and positively scrumptious. The first moment I held him, I noticed how he could just fit in the crook of my one arm so perfectly. This little teeny tiny human had me completely spellbound; I could stare at him for hours.
Andy and I waited for them to get home and settled before offering to bring over dinner. I’m assuming that’s what new parents want – a homemade meal, some company, and wine. I made them this Smokey Rosemary Polenta with Spring Vegetables. They appreciated dinner and our friendship; we appreciated the opportunity to hold Oliver and feed him and love on him for several hours. Spring is here, and I’m now I’m anticipating summer. Baby sunglasses, baby swimsuits, baby sun hats. I can smell the SPF already!
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 8 ounces grated smoked mozzarella
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 pound (1 bunch) asparagus, halved cross-wise, each piece halved lengthwise
- 2 cups frozen peas
- Ground black pepper
- Bring 6 cups of water and salt to boil in a small Dutch oven or large saucepan. Whisking constantly add polenta in a thin, steady stream. Continue to cook, whisking frequently at first and then steadily at the end, until polenta thickens to a soft, but not soupy consistency, about 30 minute. Stir in rosemary and mozzarella (holding back a couple of tablespoons of cheese for sprinkling); Cover and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus; continue to sauté until asparagus is bright green and tender-crisp. Add peas; cook until heated through, a couple minutes longer.
- Spoon a portion polenta on each of 4 soup plates. Top with a portion of vegetables, sprinkle with cheese, and serve immediately.
To save time, use instant polenta. For four servings, figure about 1 cup polenta to 4 cups of water. It cooks in just a couple of minutes.