As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of polenta in all its variety – from creamy dollops topped with osso buco, to crunchy chips or wedges, or even cakes or breads. Generally though, it’s an ingredient, or accompaniment, so it was lovely to come across this recipe where the polenta is the centerpiece, and makes a lovely, and filling meal on it’s own.

This is also a very simple recipe, despite the long list of ingredients, with everything being mixed in one pan that you then bake it in – no stirring thick polenta on the stove while lava like explosions threaten your hands! Looking at the random mixture above and below, it’s hard to believe it will turn into a creamy pan of polenta dotted with tender herbs and vegetables, but trust the process, as it definitely will.

I used a large oven proof frying pan, but any large ovenproof pan or casserole dish would work as long as it has enough surface area so you can fit 8 eggs. I’ve often struggled with baked egg recipes to get perfectly cooked eggs with runny yolks, but the bed of polenta with a blanket of cheese on top seems to consistently work.

This is also a very flexible recipe, as you could use almost any vegetables or herbs you like – the original had spinach, feta and coriander (pictured just below), but I’ve suggested a spring alternative with asparagus, Gruyere and chives (pictured at bottom). I can also imagine a lovely summer version with cherry tomatoes and zucchini, and perhaps pumpkin and sage in autumn.

So are you a polenta fan too, and if so what’s your favourite way to eat it?

Baked green polenta with eggs

Adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in the NYT

  • 250 grams frozen corn kernels (about 2 cups)
  • 2 bunches asparagus (or 200g baby spinach)
  • 150g polenta
  • 50g finely grated Parmesan
  • 50g grated Gruyere (or 150g Greek feta)
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
  • small bunch chives (or 1/2 bunch coriander)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • 500 ml chicken stock (or water and 1 tsp stock powder)
  • 40 grams unsalted butter
  • 8 medium eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 180C (with fan). Rinse and trim ends of asparagus and chop in approx 5cm lengths. Finely slice spring onions and chop parsley and chives. Crush or very finely chop garlic. Combine all ingredients except eggs in a large frying pan, reserving all of feta (if using) or 20g of the Parmesan and 1 Tbs each of chopped parsley and chives (or parsley and coriander).

Stir to combine and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir well, it should be thick, and crumble in half of feta if using. Increase heat to 200C (with fan). Use a large spoon to make hollows in the polenta and crack in eggs. Grind a little extra pepper and salt over eggs and sprinkle with remaining feta or Parmesan. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until egg whites are set but yolks are runny.

Top with reserved herbs and serve.

Serves 4