Crispy Polenta with Zesty Peach Corn Salsa – CYOB [A Double-Dip Day]

The sweet, creamy texture of the polenta in this dish is in perfect contrast to the zesty, crunchy salsa. The bright flavors on this plate can make it feel like summer any time of year.

Create Your Own Bite #12

Crispy Polenta with Zesty Peach Salsa

For the Polenta: 

1/4 Cup of Polenta-Style or Fine Cornmeal

3/4 – 1 Cup of Water

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Canola Oil

For the Salsa:

2 Medium Peaches, Peeled, Pitted and Chopped

1 1/2 Medium Beefsteak Tomatoes, Seeded and Chopped

1/2 Red Onion, Chopped

2 Tablespoons Green Chiles, Chopped

3 Tablespoons Fresh Corn Kernals

1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves, Chopped

1/8 Teaspoon Cumin

1/4 Lime, Squeezed

2 Teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar

1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

Salt, to taste

This recipe makes 1 serving of polenta [2 polenta cakes] and 6 servings of salsa [1/2 Cup]

Estimated Calories: 180

Yesterday, I left my apartment to buy a few ears of corn for today’s Little Word Bite, when I realized two very sad things: One, the weather is finally reflecting the season, and I need to dig up my scarves and sweaters. Two, because it’s no longer summer, it’s not easy to find fresh corn.

While it was more difficult than I was hoping it would be to gather my ingredients, I finally got all the components for my Crispy Polenta and Zesty Peach Corn Salsa – a true summer dish with which I will say sayonara to the season.

Get this dish ready by preparing all the ingredients for the salsa – because it’s such a small portion of cornmeal, the polenta will be a fairly quick process. Peel the peaches, seed the tomatoes, and chop them into very fine pieces. Then add the chopped onion, parsley, green chiles and whole kernal corn. Combine these ingredients in a bowl and let them rest while you ready the polenta. My salsa is very chunky – for a saucier, thinner salsa, feel free to bring out the food processor.

Meanwhile, start 3/4 cup of water boiling with the salt on the stove in a shallow saucepot. Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat slightly and slowly add the cornmeal, stirring the whole time.

Polenta can be very tempermental – make sure to stir very frequently as the polenta cooks down.

Once most of the water has been absorbed, you can gauge whether or not you need the additional 1/4 cup of water. Stir the polenta until it begins to pull away from the side of the pot, approximately 5 minutes. For other polenta dishes, it would be here that you could add in a tablespoon or two of grated parmesan, butter, or milk. This will make the polenta creamier, and impart more flavor. But tonight, I’m keeping things vegan, and the flavor profile simple.

Pour the polenta into a shallow baking pan, and form it into a rectangle. This single portion will not fill an entire pan, but polenta cools quickly and can retain a shape. Make sure your polenta is about 1/2 inch thick all the way around. Pre-heat the oven and then let the polenta set for about ten minutes while you finish off the salsa.

Combine the cumin, salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar in with the salsa mixture. Stir until they have been fully incorporated. Finish off the salsa by squeezing 1/4 of a lime for the freshest juice. Make sure to squeeze flesh-side up, so that no seeds slip into the mix.

For a sweeter salsa, use Spanish onion instead of red, or green bell pepper instead of chiles. Ginger, garlic, and mint are other herbs that you can substitute for those listed. Feel free to play around, and always taste as you go!

Set aside the salsa to finish your polenta. Cut the block, which should now be firm and cool, into two equal squares. Brush the oil onto both sides of each block, and then put the polenta in the oven for 10 minutes, flipping the cakes halfway through. In about ten minutes, the polenta should have a crispy outer-layer and still be smooth and creamy inside.

Baking the polenta is a healthy way to add texture. If you have a mini George Foreman grill, or a grill plan, that’s another great way to crisp up the dish.

To plate, top your polenta-squares with half a cup of salsa. If you’re craving something a little richer, feel free to add a tablespoon or two of feta cheese or goat cheese – both work really well with the sweeter notes of the salsa, and add a creamy element to the dish.

This meal is crisp, bright, sweet, and zesty – all the notes of summer in one perfect bite. Now that I’ve had my fill, I’m finally ready to embrace fall. I’m taking the air conditioner out of my window, and packing away my sandals.

Until next summer, I’m off to find healthy, ambrosial autumn bites.

Melanie

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