I got back from Florida last week and while it was sad to leave the sunshine, I do have to admit I’ve been loving getting back into the kitchen and of course, being reunited with my beloved winter wardrobe; seriously, how do people in hot countries survive without knitwear in Autumn?
I took a trip to Whole Foods the other day and they had an amazing seasonal selection which inspired me to get cooking again. I made a deeee-licious pumpkin, lentil and quinoa soup, and some balsamic roasted sprouts, cauliflower and kale served up on polenta. And from then on… I’ve been dreaming about more polenta.
I had some leftover butternut squash in the fridge, so naturally I combined the two to satisfy my cravings. And it was good. Tender chunks of sweet butternut squash, scattered with fragrant herbs, sitting on top of a creamy mound of polenta; creamy and smooth with bursts of sweetness throughout from the caramelised onion, all topped off with the earthy crunch of toasted pine nuts. Comforting, simple and perfectly seasonal.
- 250g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- pinch of dried thyme
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- half a red onion
- pinch of sugar
- 250ml vegetable stock
- 250ml dairy-free milk
- 90g polenta
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- handful of toasted pine nuts to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200°c and spread the chunks of squash onto a lined baking tray. Sprinkle over the rosemary, thyme and crushed garlic before drizzling with 1 tablespoon of oil. Ensure all the cubes are evenly coated in the oil. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the edges of the cubes are crisp and golden, while tender on the inside.
- Finely slice the red onion and place into a pan with the remaining tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Sweat the onion down for 3-5 minutes, then when it starts turning translucent, turn the heat down to low and add a pinch of sugar to help caramelise. Cook for another 8-10 minutes until dark and sticky.
- In the same pan, turn the heat up to high and pour in the stock and milk. Be sure to scrape all the caramelised goodness off the bottom for maximum flavour. Once the pan comes to a boil, whisk in the polenta and keep whisking until it starts to thicken. Once it has thickened slightly, turn the heat down low and cover, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes.
- Once the polenta is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the black pepper. Serve a generous mound of the polenta, topped with butternut squash and scattering of pine nuts.