Week 26, Meal 2: So good this has to be bad for you

Halfway through eating, Wifey Nadia turned to me and said this dish tasted so good that it had to be bad for us. Fresh, comforting and delicious. Nothing bad about that, I say.

I may have overcooked my eggs just a little, depriving myself of the maximum-possible yolk for this dish, but the cheesy polenta and loads of produce in this dish, the fanciest of our three Breakfast for Dinner 2 meals, did not disappoint.

Here’s Week 26, Meal 2: Parmesan polenta topped with asparagus, leek and poached eggs with prosciutto, tomato and basil salsa.

The Recipe (Yield: 2 servings)

Polenta
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup low-fat or non-fat milk
3 T polenta
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded

Veggies
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 lb. asparagus, bottoms discarded, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 leek, white and light green only, cleaned well, and thinly sliced

Eggs
4 large eggs
1 T white vinegar
1 t salt

Salsa
1/2 T olive oil
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 T basil, chiffonade
2 oz. prosciutto (A thick slice is better but it might be tough to get a thick 2 oz slice. If you get it thick I prefer to small dice it. If you get it thin then slice it thin.)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 3/4 c of low-fat or non-fat milk, 3/4 c of water, 1/2 t of salt and 1/4 t of black pepper for polenta. Bring to a simmer.

Add 3 T of polenta, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and allow to cook for about 20-30 minutes if using regular polenta or 3-4 minutes with instant polenta. When finished, add 1/2 oz. of Parmesan cheese.

While the polenta is cooking (if using regular polenta), knock out the rest of the dish. If using instant polenta, simply time your components and tackle them in what ever order is comfortable to you.

Start with the prosciutto. Drop the small dice on a thick 2 oz. of slice of prosciutto. Heat 1/2 T of olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto and cook until the prosciutto turns a dark red color and gets crispy. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

Knife work: Cut 1/2 lb. of asparagus into 1-inch. pieces and thin slice 1 leek. While you’re on the board, small dice 1 roma tomato and chiffonade 1 T of basil.

In a medium saute pan over a medium-high, heat the other 1/2 T olive oil. Add asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the leek and cook until both are tender. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

To make the salsa, combine the prosciutto, tomato and basil. Reserve.

Before you’re ready to poach your eggs bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add 1 T of vinegar and 1 t of salt.

When ready to go, drop in 4 eggs separately, but in succession. Cut the heat on the pot and let the eggs poach forĀ  3 min. 45 sec.-4 min. 15 sec. depending on if you’re using large or extra large eggs. (You might have your own method — this one works for me.)

To plate: Split the polenta between two plates or bowls. Top each with 1/2 of the veggie mixture and then two poached eggs. Finish off the dish with half of the salsa.

I’m writing this post after eating the meal as my actual breakfast and I’m already thinking about making the polenta for dinner to go with some turkey Italian sausage and homemade pizza sauce in my fridge. The cheesy cornmeal is satisfying comfort food on its own, but the base gets elevated with the addition of the fresh asparagus and aromatic leeks. I love how the richness of the yolk, saltiness of theĀ  parmesan and vegetal earthiness of the asparagus play off each other. Finishing with the prosciutto — essentially meat croutons in this dish — put this one over the top.

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