My sister got me Jack Bishop's Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook for my birthday, and this is my inaugural recipe from it. It's simple and delicious, just the way I like my food. Jack's method of cooking polenta is slightly different from any way I've tried it before, and I'll admit I was suspicious of cooking it just in water (as opposed to broth and cream), but I have to say, this is the best polenta I've ever made. I highly recommend that you try his method.
The greens are a combination of chard and spinach, quickly braised with a garlic and onion combo. Everything comes together with a remarkably comforting balance of texture and flavor. This is excellent food for a rainy winter night.
Polenta with Garlicky Greens
adapted from the Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook
2 cups water
1/2 cup medium-grind cornmeal
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems and ribs removed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Start the polenta first, as it will take about 40 minutes. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add a pinch of salt. Reduce heat slightly and stream in the cornmeal slowly, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk vigorously for about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and put the lid on. Let cook for about 40 minutes, or until polenta is creamy and smooth, whisking every 10 minutes.
2. While the polenta cooks, tear up the chard into chunks. Make sure chard and spinach are thoroughly washed and drained, but don't dry it - you want some moisture still on the leaves.
3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened and nearly translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium and add the greens. Stir carefully to coat them with the oil. Season with salt and pepper, and put a lid on the pan. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender and wilted. Remove lid and cook for an additional 2 minutes to let some of the liquid evaporate.
4. When polenta is done cooking, stir in the butter. Divide between two bowls and serve the greens over the top.