Sunday, January 24, 2016

Polenta Breakfast Squares with Kale and Quinoa

Given the choice between a sweet breakfast or a savory breakfast, I will pick sweet almost every time. There is almost nothing I like better than sitting down in the early morning with a steaming cup of coffee and a delicious, fresh baked pastry. Scones, cinnamon rolls, danishes, muffins, you get the picture, that's my idea of the perfect breakfast. This, however, does not mean that a savory breakfast is never appreciated, on the contrary, some days a perfectly fried sunny-side up egg served over a piece of cheesy toast is ideal. Or a big plate of scrambled eggs, fresh bread and a side of breakfast sausage. I won't discriminate. 

This recipe came from one of those mornings when sweet wasn't at the top of the list. I was feeling like something hearty and savory. I liked the idea of a fancied up polenta bake so I added in a little bit of what I had floating around the fridge; onions, kale and some quickly cooked quinoa for a little extra protein, but you could really add whatever you'd like in the flavor department. It ended up being the perfect fix for my savory breakfast craving. 

I used a recipe I found on The Kitchn as a starting point for these squares, but then adapted it for what I wanted and what I had in the fridge. What I was really hoping for is that these squares would hold together when they were cut and not just fall apart in a crumbly mess. Thankfully they ended up holding together quite well, but I did end up waiting until after they were refrigerated and thoroughly chilled before cutting them up, just to make sure. 

I ended up finding that my favorite way to eat these squares was to broil them in the oven until crisp and hot, then topping each square with a generous piece of cheese and letting the residual heat in the oven melt the cheese to perfection. I nice drizzle of romescu sauce, a poached egg, or even a good spoonful of salsa would also be wonderful. The square reheat well so let your imagination go wild!

Polenta Breakfast Squares with Kale and Quinoa
Adapted from The Kitchn

  • 1/4 small onion, minced
  • 2 handfuls kale, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup (158 grams) cornmeal
  • 90 grams quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish (or something of similar size).

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion has softened. Stir in the kale and cook for a few more minutes until kale is starting to wilt. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cooked quinoa, stirring to combine. 

Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the milk, then whisk in the cornmeal and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese. Fold in the cooked onion and kale mixture, along with the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Pour in the 2 cups of boiling water and whisk to combine in the dish. Bake uncovered for 60-80 minutes total. After the first 20 minutes, whisk thoroughly, moving the polenta from the edges of the pan in to the center, and moving the center of the polenta out, to ensure the polenta is baking evenly. Continue baking until the polenta looks firm and golden-brown on top, and a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoons Parmesan over top while the casserole is still hot.

Serve warm, cold, or hot. The polenta will be fairly soft while hot, but will firm up as it cools. If you want nice, even slices, allow to cool and then refrigerate until chilled before cutting. 

Note: square reheat very well under the broiler; broil until nice and crisp on top, then top with a slice of cheese and allow to melt before digging in. 

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