Creamy Polenta with Kale and Fried Eggs
This quick and easy gluten-free breakfast recipe is also satisfying for dinner. I like to make it at the end of a busy day when I don’t have time to shop or plan and don’t have much energy left for cooking. The polenta cooks to steaming creaminess in the microwave while I melt a heap of greens until almost tender and then fry eggs in the same skillet until crispy on the edges. For a burst of freshness, serve it with a zesty salsa fresca—herbs and shallot mixed with olive oil.
I started adding kale and chard to polenta soon after learning the importance of eating greens at least once a day, for general health, and especially for strong bones (greens are loaded with Vitamin K which is necessary for bone formation). Steve was certain I was ruining a comforting bowl of polenta when he saw me sautéing kale. However, as so often happens when I slip foliage into a favorite dish, once he tasted the finished recipe he admitted the peppery-earthy addition was very good.
Bob’s Red Mill whole grain cornmeal is my preference for this easy microwave polenta. It’s loaded with good flavor and cooks faster than traditional polenta, which is more coarsely ground cornmeal. Seasoned with olive oil, black pepper and Parmesan cheese, this dish shows up frequently on our table, especially since I needed to embrace a gluten-free diet. It’s a great replacement for toast or crusty bread when you want to mop up soft eggs or sauces.
Salsa verde is so simple to make and so loaded with fresh flavors, it’s become another gluten-free essential in my kitchen. I chop a big handful each of Italian parsley and basil with a small shallot and a big pinch of coarse kosher salt. A technique I learned from Roberto Santibanez, chef and owner of Fonda restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The salt helps to grind the herbs and then dissolves, lifting the flavor of everything. Mix with a little olive oil and lemon and you have a sauce that is great on eggs, fish, chicken, and even avocados.
It is hot here in Los Angeles today, and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen, another good reason to make polenta with greens and fried eggs. I just put it on the menu for tonight.
Creamy Polenta with Kale and Fried Eggs
The salsa verde is optional, but we love the fresh taste it adds to this satisfying gluten-free breakfast or dinner dish. Swiss chard, spinach, and broccoli rabe are good replacements for the kale. For broccoli rabe, follow the directions for the kale. For chard and spinach, sauté for a scant 3-5 minutes; no need to add water or cover the pan. This polenta also makes a great base for scallops (or shrimp) in a tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted cherry tomatoes.
Makes 2 servings
½ cup (packed) Italian parsley leaves
½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1 small shallot, chopped
¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
½ cup gluten-free medium-grind cornmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill whole grain cornmeal)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Kale and eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ large bunch kale, large stems removed, chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salsa verde: Place the parsley, mint, and chopped shallot on a cutting board. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and chop together until minced. Transfer to a small bowl. Mix in the oil, lemon zest and juice. Season to taste with salt and a pepper.
For the Polenta: Combine the water, cornmeal, olive oil, salt, and a generous amount of pepper in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Mix to combine. Cook in the microwave at high setting for 5 minutes. Stir thoroughly, and then cook at high setting for 5 more minutes. Stir well. Mix in the cheese.
Meanwhile, cook the kale and eggs: Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the kale, sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir to coat with oil. Add ¼ cup water, cover and cook until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the kale to the polenta and stir to combine.
Quickly rinse out the skillet, dry well, and return to medium heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until hot. Add the eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let sizzle until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny.
Divide the polenta among 2 plates or shallow bowls. Top with the eggs. Grate a little Parmesan cheese on top and serve with the salsa verde, if using.