Blue Cheese Polenta Cakes with Arugula, Caramelized Onions and Walnuts

Total Time:
1 hr 26 min
Prep:
20 min
Inactive:
1 min
Cook:
1 hr 5 min

Yield:
36 small squares
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • 5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 turns freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup instant polenta
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Instant flour, for dredging polenta
  • Caramelized onions, recipe follows
  • 1 bunch arugula, stems removed, well rinsed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • Caramelized Onions:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound yellow onions, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with 1 teaspoon of the oil. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions, garlic, and basil and saute for 30 seconds. Add the salt and pepper and saute for another 30 seconds. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil. Whisk in the polenta slowly, a little at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of a thick roux. When the mixture is thick, add the blue cheese and stir until it is melted and incorporated. Remove from the heat, and working quickly, spoon the mixture into the greased pan, spreading it and packing it down before it sets. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove the polenta from the pan and cut evenly into1 1/2-inch squares. Dredge the polenta squares in the flour. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the polenta squares and fry until golden brown, about 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Arrange arugula leaves on each square and top with the caramelized onions and nuts.

Serve immediately.

(Note: If preferred, instead cut the polenta into larger squares for appetizer portions or as a main course accompaniment.)

Caramelized Onions:

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized, about 45 minutes. Add the thyme, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine. Cook for 1 minute.


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