I’m currently obsessed with Melissa Clark’s new cookbook, Dinner: Changing the Game. Being a food photographer, I tend to look through a cookbook first through it’s images, and then through the recipes themselves. The first thing I noticed about this book in particular was the photography. I can easily say that this book has some of the most beautiful food photos I’ve seen in a very long time. (Hats off to the photographer of the book). The recipes are easy and straight-foward, which is what you want for dinner, especially during the week, when we don’t have all the time in the world, and are just too tired to cook. I don’t know about you, but there are certain times during the week when I’m just really stumped and don’t have a clue of what I want to cook for dinner. It’s hard sometimes to land on something to make because I get bored of cooking the same dishes over and over again. When this happens, I usually start thumbing through the cookbooks on my shelf to find some inspiration.
To help you with the doldrum dinner dilemma, I’m giving away a copy of this book to one lucky winner. If you’ve ever participated in a giveaway on this blog, then you’ll know how they usually work. Just in case you’re joining us for the first time, I’ll let you know the rules. To enter, leave a comment answering a question I’m about to give you. You have until Friday to enter. One winner will be picked at random and notified via email. My mamma’s greatest pleasure in life is reading the comments on this blog, so as always, she’ll be reading all of your comments and be picking the winner at random. Usually it involves all the names being put in a jar and she picking one. She loves it. It’s one comment per person, let’s keep things fair. The prompt this time around is, what is your favorite “out meal” to eat? Out meal means those meals when you’re just too tired to cook, or simply aren’t feeling it, so you go out to eat. What is that favorite meal you like to eat, that you don’t make? I want to hear all about it. What is the dish, where do you get it from and why do you love it so much?! The more the merrier. You got this.
There were so many recipes in this book to choose from, so it was a little hard to pick one to share on here, but since I’m a big fan of polenta and/or grits, I thought this one is a good way to start. I think this dish is meant to be a vegetarian meal, on the “lighter” side, but to me it’s a great starter or appetizer to share around the table. Best served with grilled or toasted bread to pile on the polenta, roasted asparagus, buratta, and prosciutto.
We’re going to start by making the polenta. I’ve adapted, this recipe from the book to fit the polenta/grit recipe I always make. I use Alton Brown’s recipe which uses both milk and water. In a medium pot, combine the water, milk, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, over medium-low heat. Slowly whisk in the coarse yellow cornmeal and cook, stirring often until thickened. Lower the flame, cover and cook until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
**Note: Because milk tends to boil over rather quickly when bringing to a simmer, it’s important to keep a close eye on the pot because if not, it will bubble over and create a big mess on your stove. It’s happened to me more times than I care to admit.**
Meanwhile, let’s roast the asparagus. Clean and trim the ends off of two bunches of fresh thick asparagus. Toss together with olive oil, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes until evenly combined.
**Tip: Give the pan a good shake to make sure all of the asparagus is in a single layer. This will make the roasting process a lot easier and allow them to cook evenly.**
Once the polenta is done, remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and stir in the butter and black pepper. Give it a taste and adjust seasoning accordingly, adding more salt or pepper as needed.
**Tip: If your polenta becomes too thick, stir in a bit of hot water to loosen it up. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the more salt you might need to add as well to adjust the seasoning.**
Assemble the dish by pouring the polenta into individual serving dishes, or one large shallow platter or serving dish. Arrange the roasted asparagus on top to one side. Then place the burrata on top as well, to another side, along with the prosciutto.
Finish the dish off by drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top of the dish. Season with flaky sea salt and lots of coarsely ground black pepper on top.
This dish is great served with sliced bread that has been grilled or toasted in the oven. Slice a baguette or any hearty loaf you prefer, then drizzle with olive oil and grill on a hot stove top grill pan or under the broiler until crispy and golden brown. Pile the bread on a plate or platter and serve alongside the polenta.
**Note: The idea is that you pile on the polenta onto a slice of bread. Then top with asparagus, some burrata, and prosciutto and you eat it like a toast. It’s a great hands-on appetizer or starter for a gathering or party.**
Don’t forget that you have until Friday (end of day) to leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a copy of Melissa Clark’s new gorgeous cookbook, Dinner: Changing the Game. Remember that it’s one entry per person and anyone can enter. We gotta keep it fair. As always my mamma will be picking the winner at random, it’s her favorite thing to do. Again, to enter, you must leave a comment below letting us know what your favorite “out meal” is. That meal you go out to eat when you’re just too tired to cook. We’ve all been there. Good luck, I’m rooting for you!
**UPDATE: Congratulation to Sara Henderson for being the winner of this giveaway! Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon! Thank you to everyone who entered!**
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
- 2 bunches thick asparagus (about 2 pounds), ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 whole burrata cheese, about 8 ounces
- 2 (3-ounce) packages sliced prosciutto
- Balsamic vinegar, for serving (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
- Sliced or grilled baguette slices, for serving
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- In a medium pot, combine water, milk, 1 teaspoon salt and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and then slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Stir frequently until the polenta has thickened enough that it no longer sinks to the bottom of the pot, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer very gently until tender, about 15 to 30 minutes.
- While the polenta cooks, place the asparagus on a baking sheet, and soft with the olive oil, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Shake so that the asparagus is in a single layer. Roast until tender and browned, about 8 to 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your asparagus).
- When the polenta is done, remove the bay leaf, and stir in the butter, and the remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper.
- Spoon the polenta onto a large serving plate or dish, and arrange the asparagus on top. Place the burrata on top, to the side, along with the sliced prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar if you like, and season with flaky salt and black pepper. Serve with grilled or toasted bread on the side.