This recipe serves two. You might as well double or triple the recipe for more servings, or easy leftovers. Community Grains sells a beautiful polenta integrale – it takes more cooking time (up to three hours) but the resulting polenta is rich, creamy, and flecked with the signature red of this heritage corn varietal.
2 to 3 cups / 450 to 675 ml vegetable broth or water, as needed
1/2 cup / 85 g polenta
fine sea salt
1 large fennel bulb
knob of ghee or clarified butter
2 tablespoons raw fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup, or to taste
1/4 cup / 5g chopped mixed herbs, such as dill, chives, parsley
1/4 cup / 27 g grated Pecorino Romano cheese
cold-pressed olive oil
herb flowers for garnish
Heat the vegetable broth in a large saucepan until simmering. Slowly pour in the polenta in a steady stream, whisking all the while to prevent clumping. Add a few pinches of salt. Stir constantly for a couple minutes; then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 30 to 45 minutes (read the label on your polenta for cooking time approximations). If the polenta becomes too thick, add more broth or water and whisk until smooth The polenta is cooked when you rub a small amount of it between your fingers and it is no longer gritty, but instead creamy and smooth.
While the polenta is cooking, cut the fennel bulb into thin vertical slices (from the top to the base).
Heat the ghee in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the fennel slices to the skillet, making sure that they all come into contact with the surface of the skillet (not overlapping). Sprinkle with sea salt. Do not stir or move the fennel until it is golden on the bottom, 5 to 7 minutes. When all the pieces have browned, flip them onto the uncooked sides. When the underside has also browned, add a sprinkling of fennel seeds and the maple syrup, and let cook for 1 minute. Toss to coat, transfer the fennel to a plate. Season with more salt if needed.
Add the chopped herbs and grated cheese to the polenta, and give it a final stir. Whisk in a little more broth or water if necessary.
To serve, scoop a portion of polenta onto a plate, then arrange the caramelized fennel on top. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with herb flowers if available.
From My New Roots: Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every Season by Sarah Britton.