It was a cold and rainy night in New York. The weather called for a dinner that would be comforting and warming. My schedule called for a dinner that would be easy. Polenta fit the bill. Topping polenta with kale and cannellini is not only delicious, but easy. Here is how I do it. This recipe serves 2-3 and the ingredients are easy to double.
1 bunch of Kale (approximately 1/2 pound), rinsed and chopped, with stems removed
1 can of cannellini beans (15.5 oz.), drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of vegetable stock
1/2 cup of yellow polenta
1/4 pound of fontina cheese, grated
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt, for seasoning
Start with the polenta. In a pot, combine 2 and 1/2 cups of water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a big pinch of salt and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the polenta and whisk until well combined. Bring back to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Continue stirring for about 3 minutes. Cover the pot and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Polenta should be smooth but not thick. Cover and remove from heat to keep warm.
While the polenta is simmering, heat approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the chopped kale, and lightly stir to cover the greens with oil. Salt the kale, cover, and let the kale fry for 3-5 minutes, until the greens are wilted. Add the vegetable stock and the cannellini beans. Bring the liquid to a simmer and let cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once the kale and cannellini is ready, remove the bay leaf from the polenta, and add half of the grated fontina to the polenta. Stir until the cheese is melted and season with salt to taste. Pour the polenta onto a plate or into a shallow bowl. Top with the kale and cannellini beans and garnish with some of the left over shredded fontina.
We paired this dish with a 2010 Barbera from Ettore Germano in Serralunga, but can be enjoyed with any hearty red wine.
*Recipe adapted from Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich