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polenta crust vegetable tart

I really love polenta! I mentioned it earlier this month when talking about cornbread, but I realised I haven’t posted a polenta recipe before, so I think it’s about time. We regularly eat soft polenta with stews like osso bucco, baked polenta with blue cheese or feta, and polenta chips just by themselves… This tart, in fact, is basically a more elaborate version of the baked polenta with cheese. The fact that it is also a gluten free tart is just a bonus.

stir cheese and egg into polenta

For this tart, the cooked polenta is pressed into a tin, then filled with a yoghurt based filling, vegetables, and cheese. The original recipe was made with tinned artichoke hearts, and they’re a great option that makes this an almost straight from the pantry dish, but I particularly love to make this with seasonal vegetables.

press polenta into tart tin to line base and sides

In summer, try roasted vegetables such as cherry tomatoes or zucchini with wilted spinach, topped with basil and mozzarella; perhaps caramelised onion with roasted sweet potato or pumpkin and feta in autumn; and leek with goats cheese in winter. Any vegetable combination you love would probably work fine, just roast or steam them first.

wash asparagus well and steam until just cooked

At the moment, in spring, the obvious choice is asparagus! I love combining it with a beautiful melting cheese like Gruyère or Raclette, and soft new season herbs like chives and tarragon. This is lovely both warm and cold, and would make a great picnic dish I think. Let me know if you think of any other filling alternatives…

lay asparagus in crust, and top with cheese

asparagus polenta crust tart

Asparagus polenta crust tart

Adapted from a recipe on The Wednesday Chef site

Crust:

  • 650ml water
  • 1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 200g (~1 1/4 cups) polenta
  • 70g grated Parmesan
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Filling:

  • 250g (1 cup) Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 small bunch finely chopped chives
  • 1 large sprig (2 Tbs chopped) parsley
  • 3 sprigs (2 Tbs chopped leaves) tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 60g Gruyère, Raclette (or any flavoursome melting cheese)
  • 60g Parmesan

Combine water, stock powder and salt and bring the the boil in a medium saucepan .  Add the polenta gradually, whisking constantly. Keep whisking until it returns to the boil, then reduce heat and switch to a wooden spoon, stirring occasionally, until very thick and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Be careful of the mixture spitting as it starts boiling, you may need to partially cover the pan. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes before stirring in cheese, egg and pepper.

Brush a 23-25cm (9-10”) deep tart pan (preferably loose bottomed) with olive oil and scrape in the polenta, using wet or oiled hands to pat out to cover the base and sides. (You can use other tin shapes – the rectangular one above is great for asparagus –  but if they’re shallow like the one above you will only need half the mixture) Allow to cool and set for 15 minutes,  and then press up the sides again if they’ve slumped.

Preheat oven to 190C, and put a tray on a middle rack to heat. For the filling, snap the ends off the asparagus and rinse well. Steam or boil briefly until barely cooked, then lay on a clean tea towel to dry and cool. Whisk together the yoghurt, eggs, chopped herbs, salt and pepper.

Place the asparagus evenly over the tart base, top with the sliced melting cheese, and pour over the yoghurt mix. Grate the Parmesan over the top. Put the tart tin on the heated tray, and bake for about 40 minutes until the filling is set and crust is lightly browned. Cool on a rack for about half an hour before slicing. Leftovers are also nice cold, though you can reheat slices in the microwave.

 

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