Creamy Polenta with Sautéed Leafy Greens
This polenta gets its richness from cashews, a versatile nut that takes on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. Here, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil transform blended cashews into a flavorful cream sauce to top off rustic polenta with vitamin-packed leafy greens.
For the polenta:
- 3 cups water
- A pinch of salt
- 1 cup polenta grains
For the cream sauce:
- 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 1 hour
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup white beans
- 1 cup water
For the greens:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups spinach, kale, collard greens or chard, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- Salt and pepper
In a medium size saucepan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Slowly stir in the polenta. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent the polenta from sticking.
Strain the cashews. Heat a pan over low heat and add the olive oil, followed by the garlic. Cook until the garlic begins to soften, stirring often. Cool to room temperature.
Place the cashews in a blender with the garlic and its cooking oil, lemon juice, salt, white beans and water and blend until smooth. With the blender still going, slowly pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
When the polenta is almost done, cook the greens. Heat a sauté pan and add the olive oil, then the greens. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often, until tender. Season with salt.
Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the cream sauce. Season, to taste. Serve topped with greens and a few grinds of fresh pepper.