01/13/2016

Polenta Croutons with fresh greens & blue cheese

Recently, I saw a great segment on a cooking show about making a big, delicious salad topped with polenta croutons. I was immediately intrigued. I had all the makings of a fresh salad, so after a quick trip to the grocery store, I had all the ingredients I needed to make the croutons. Things worked out great because I’d invited friends over for dinner so I had my “taste testers” ready to check out a little something new on my menu. 
A Southern Soul
I cooked the polenta, (Italian ground cornmeal – similar to grits) added in extra flavor with cheese, herbs and garlic, poured it into a pan and popped it in the fridge to set up.
A Southern Soul
About an hour before dinner, I cut the polenta into croutons and baked the squares in the oven. 
A Southern Soul
Next came the salad. I used fresh baby romaine, blueberries then added in chunks of rich, creamy blue cheese. I made a jar of my homemade vinaigrette dressing and set everything aside until dinner was ready. Right before serving, I topped the salad with the polenta croutons then poured over the dressing. 
 
A Southern Soul
Oh, my goodness – y’all, this salad is crazy good! It may seem strange to get so excited about a green salad but I promise, once you make these croutons, you’ll agree with me. The polenta stays soft and creamy on the inside and the squares are toasted and crunchy on the outside. They soak up just the right amount of the dressing and when paired with the fresh lettuce, blueberries and creamy cheese, you’ve got the perfect bite! 
A Southern Soul
We had a great dinner and my new menu addition passed everyones taste test. There were a few croutons left over but they didn’t last long. Let’s just say they made a great snack with a little blue cheese dip while playing a highly spirited game of cards!
 
A Southern Soul
Polenta Croutons

4 cups water
1 cup quick cooking polenta
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley (can substitute any other herb of choice)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Bring water to boil and slowly add in polenta whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. 
  • Turn off heat and stir in butter, cheese and herbs. 
  • Line an 8 by 8 pan with foil and coat lightly with cooking spray. Pour polenta into pan. Cover and place in refrigerator to set up approximately 1 hour.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove polenta from fridge. Unmold from pan and cut into squares. Place crouton squares on a parchment lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake in oven for 45 minutes until lightly browned on edges.
  • Cool then serve with a salad, as a topping for soup or as an appetizer with your favorite dip.

 

Click on the photo for my favorite vinaigrette dressing!

 

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