October 28, 2009
No matter how hard I try to be good, Halloween week ends up being a bloodbath. (Is it just me?!) I do my best to keep it healthy, lower sugar, and all homemade, but the bottom line is that it’s sweets week! (And that’s fun, damn it!) One of the ways that I keep myself—and my family—in check is by serving lighter meals heavy on the veggies in between all the Halloween fun.
This meal was inspired by my to-die-for Polenta “Creamed” Spinach. I simplified this quick polenta side to make an even healthier vegetarian main. Now, if you’ve been reading ChowMama for a while, you know how vegetarian dinners usually go over in my house. If you haven’t been reading for a while, not well is the point. But this meal was a winner! Like pasta, this Spinach Parmesan Polenta is hearty enough to fill the boys’ bellies, especially topped with garlicky Roasted Broccolini. (No daydreaming of meatballs this time!)
This is a great meal for families with eaters of all ages. Polenta is the perfect consistency for children who haven’t yet mastered big chunks, and it doesn’t leave us adults feeling like we’re eating baby food (because we’re not)! This is just seriously good, straight-up family food.
And—quick tip!—skip the broccolini and make this polenta for a warm and hearty 15-minute lunch.
Roasted Broccolini over Spinach Parmesan Polenta
(can be adapted for kids 8+ mos*)
For the Roasted Broccolini
2 heads organic broccolini, cleaned & cut into florets
3 cloves organic garlic, finely chopped
organic olive oil
salt and pepper
For the Spinach Parmesan Polenta
4 c organic chicken or veggie broth
2 c chopped, fresh organic spinach*
1 1/3 c organic polenta
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp organic butter
1/3 c organic grated parmesan
1. Roast Broccolini: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, toss broccolini with chopped garlic and enough olive oil to coat well. Spread florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 18-20 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.
2. Bring broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Add spinach and lower heat to medium. Bring broth back to a boil.
3. Add salt and polenta, pouring in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the while. Allow to cook for another minute, continuing to whisk, until thick. Turn off heat.
4. Immediately stir in butter, grated parmesan and black pepper. Taste—you may want to add some more salt to older kid and adult portions.
5. Plate polenta and top with roasted broccolini. Drizzle with olive oil and some more grated parmesan. (You may also want to offer tomato sauce on top—that’s how my ChowBaby likes it.)
*Note: For young eaters, be sure to either puree the broccolini or cut it up into age-appropriate bites and mix in well with the polenta. Also, spinach is recommended for children 10+ mos. If you’d like to serve this to children 8- or 9-months old, mix the broccolini in with plain parmesan polenta.