Pan-Fried Polenta with Sauteed Greens

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Crispy pan-fried polenta topped with a vibrant mix of sautéed greens, a squeeze of lemon, and a dollop of goat cheese. See how this versatile dish can elevate any meal with its simple yet flavorful ingredients.
Side Dish

When a craving for something both comforting and nutritious strikes, pan-fried polenta with sautéed greens hits the spot. Picture golden, crispy-edged polenta cakes, topped with a tangle of vibrant greens, a squeeze of lemon to brighten things up, and a dollop of creamy goat cheese for that perfect tangy finish. This dish is a celebration of textures and flavors that will make you savor every bite.

What’s fantastic about this recipe is its versatility. Use any hearty greens you have on hand—whether it’s kale, chard, or even the often-overlooked greens attached to your turnips, beets, or radishes. This adaptability not only helps reduce food waste but also lets you tailor the dish to your personal taste or whatever's fresh in your CSA box hat week. Whether served as a satisfying main course or a stunning side dish, this polenta creation is sure to impress.

Customizing This Dish

Feel free to get creative with this dish! Here are some ideas to make it your own:

  • Polenta Variations: If you want to add a bit more flavor to your polenta, you can try stirring in a bit of grated parmesan, diced sundried tomatoes, or some fresh herbs.
  • Greens Swap: Mix and match greens based on what you have. Spinach, beet greens, or even mustard greens can add their own distinctive flavors and textures.
  • Cheese Alternatives: If goat cheese isn't your favorite, try feta for a saltier punch, or a dollop of ricotta for a milder, creamier option.
  • Add Protein: Top with a poached egg or some crispy pancetta for an extra protein boost that transforms this dish into a hearty meal.
  • Herbs and Spices: Enhance the greens with a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat, or fresh herbs like thyme or basil to add a fragrant note.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Leftovers? No problem! This dish stores beautifully, making it a great candidate for meal prep.

  • Storing: Place the polenta and greens in separate airtight containers. They’ll keep well in the fridge for up to three days.
  • Reheating Polenta: To bring back that crispy goodness, reheat the polenta in a hot skillet with a touch of olive oil. Alternatively, pop them in the oven at 375°F for about 10 minutes.
  • Reheating Greens: Warm the greens gently in a skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth to keep them from drying out.
  • Assembly: Once reheated, reassemble your dish with a fresh squeeze of lemon and a new dollop of goat cheese. It’ll taste just as delightful as the first time!

Pan-Fried Polenta with Sauteed Greens

Pan-Fried Polenta with Sauteed Greens

Prep Time:
40 min
Cook Time:
15 min
Total Time:
55 min
Equipment Needed
  • 8X8 baking dish
  • Parchment paper

For the Polenta:

  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper
  • Neutral oil for frying
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese

For the Sautéed Greens:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups hearty greens (such as chard, kale, spinach, or turnip greens), washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon
  1. Grease the pan, then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the milk, water and a pinch of salt. Bring almost to a boil, stirring to combine.
  3. When the pot is almost boiling, whisk the polenta into the liquid in a slow and steady stream to avoid clumping. Reduce the heat to low, bringing the polenta to a simmer. Continue to cook, string frequently, until it’s thickened to a porridge-like consistency, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in some freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Pour the polenta into the prepared pan, spreading evenly,  and put into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes for it to properly set.
  5. Remove from the fridge and take out of the pan. Discard the parchment paper. Cut the polenta into 6 pieces (or 9 if serving as a side).
  6. Heat some neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the polenta to the pan with plenty of room to flip it. Cook on each side long enough to brown (2-3 minutes per side) then remove from heat.
  7. In a large, heavy pan, add the olive oil and heat to medium-high. Add the sliced shallots and sauté to begin to soften. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 30 second, then stir in the greens.
  8. Stir constantly until the greens have wilted and have turned a deep green color. Squeeze the lemon juice over the greens then remove from the pan from the heat.
  9. Spoon the greens over the polenta and top with a chunk of goat cheese. Serve immediately.
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