I have been all about appetizers lately. Tasty little bites that hold everyone over until the main event, or that something special for a party……….Sage Polenta Bites!
I love butternut squash……….it’s sweet and nutty flavor is perfect for this recipe. I have said it before, but I go through phases with food………I was having a butternut squash phase when fall came a calling. Something about fall and butternut squash and sage……..it speaks to me……..of course what food doesn’t ……….it all speaks to me!
Soooo much inspiration comes to me at the grocery store……..I love the grocery store……….I love to grocery shop…….I know crazy huh! Well, I am a little nut off plum…….tee hee! Anyway, I was doing my pursuing at the store and saw a tube of polenta. I have grilled it and fried it before, topped it with tomatoes……yummy. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but it went into the cart.
Fast forward a week or so…….I had a butternut squash that I wanted to do something with,out of the corner of my eye I caught the polenta…….it’s shelf stable, so you can keep it on hand. So, out came the polenta. Now what????? Well the best way to have the butternut squash is roasted so, into the oven with a little bit of oil and salt and pepper. While that was roasting I was looking at the polenta for some idea of how to cook it……crispy?……..panko crumbs, it makes everything crispy. So, three station dip for the polenta…….flour, egg, panko. Into some hot oil and crispy they were. Now to top them, although I could have eaten them as they were. At this point if you are making them for a party, you can hold them in a warm oven to keep them crisp.
The squash was roasted, but I wanted to jazz it up some……walnuts, sage, and a touch of garlic. Cooked the walnuts, sage and garlic in a touch of oil and added it to the roasted squash.
Still something missing…..some kind of creamy something…..maybe cheese……..goat cheese! Flavor for the goat cheese??? First I thought no, then maybe, finally yes……..not sure why I tried it, but I am sure glad I did……. maple syrup. It was perfect!
So, crispy polenta, a smear of maple goat cheese, and the squash walnut mixture. Looks real pretty……..take a bite………heaven……..it was one of those moments when Tim and I both said……thats the ticket!
One thing I have learned after a year of writing this blog, by the time you get the pictures taken the food is cold……in this case it did not matter, they still tasted awesome!
So, for that extra special party or just because try these Sage Polenta Bites you will be glad you did!
1 (18-ounce) tube prepared polenta, cut into 12 (1/2-inch) slices
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 – 4oz package goat cheese
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash cubes with 2 teaspoons oil. Spread out the butternut squash ona baking sheet sprayed with onon-stick spray.Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender and startin gto caramelize.
While the squash is roasting, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts, sage and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are lightly browned, and garlic is fragrant 2 to 3 minutes.
Scoop the butternut squash into a large bowl. Scrape the pine nut mixture onto the butternut squash and gently toss.
Place bread crumbs, flour and egg into separate shallow bowls.
Cut polenta slices in half.
Dip each polenta piece into flour, then egg and then bread crumbs.
Heat oil over medium heat. Place dipped polenta pieces into skillet careful not to over crowd. Cook 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.Turn polenta slices; cook again for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove polenta to parchement lined baking sheet; place in 250* oven to keep warm.
Mix together until smooth.
Remove polenta from oven and allow to cool slightly.Just so you can handle them. Place a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on each polenta piece. Top with roasted butternut squash mixture. Garnish with small sage leaves if desired.
Some of the last things to come out of your garden……should you chose to grow one…….is squash, like butternut, acorn, spaghetti ……….the ones with hard shells.
They just spell fall. They are so good roasted and roasting requires an oven, and let’s get real who wants to turn on your oven in the summer…….not me!!!
But, when sunset starts coming earlier and earlier and the air starts to cool, I get the itch to turn on the oven. Baking cookies, casseroles, bread, and of course roasted squash. I had to buy my squash 🙁 sad face……..mine did not grow…….it was a garden failure. But, thank goodness that was only me, and other gardeners were happy to sell theirs at Farmers Markets.
After my sugar coma from the Chocolate Drop Cookies, I wanted something not sweet and waaaaayyyyyyyy more healthy! Lots of veggies……..hearty, and super tasty. My inspiration in venturing into the blog world was Lindsay and Bojork from Pinch of Yum. Check out their blog……it is truly awesome!!! The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce recipe is from Pinch of Yum and boy is it yum!!!! Best part, it’s has no cream and is still creamy……go figure. It was the perfect sauce for this dish.
Tim and I are huge fans of pasta…….all kinds. The fresh kind they sell these days at the grocery stores are great.The folks at Buitoni make a Butternut Squash Stuffed Angolotti that is out of this world and even better topped with the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce, roasted butternut squash, and a touch of sage.
So I will be honest, peeling squash is not the easiest thing to do, but if you peel it before you cut it in half, it is a bit easier. I use a veggie peeler…..that way if it slips I will only cut the skin off a knuckle instead of removing a finger……Ok thats only funny in hind site….ha ha!
I wanted to have a garnish and figured if you could eat pumpkin seeds, you could eat butternut squash seeds. I did look it up to be sure, just my luck they would be toxic. But they are safe.
So, I roasted the squash and the seeds in the same pan. Just watch the seeds so they don’t burn. They do not need as long as the squash to cook. I wish mine had had a few more seeds, they were really tasty. This is not a super quick recipe, but it makes an elegant presentation and the combination of flavors is……….. rich and indulgent, but still good for you……..how can it be, but it is……the whole dish is under 500 calories and low fat.
I still find it amazing that the sauce is sooo creamy ……..I’m looking for ways to use it again…..and again……and again!!!!
Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.