After the holidays are over, it is refreshing sometimes to have a meal that is a bit on the lighter side (especially after eating all those fake girl scout cookies). It's also great to have a meal that you can clean out your fridge with. Its a great basic formula, but definitely not your run of the mill pasta dish or stir fry that usually seem to constitute a pantry meal.
This dish has all the good stuff. Creamy, crispy polenta and sauteed mushrooms and carrots, topped with a big 'ol fried egg. I am a firm believer in the "everything is better with a fried egg on top" school of thought. This separate but equally as valid as the "everything is better with bacon" school of thought. When the oozing yolk mixes with the earthy veggies and the cheesy polenta, it is heaven. Now that I think about it, I am totally adding bacon next time I make this.
I first saw a version of this recipe on thekitchn.com and really loved the combination, but I ended up changing it quite a bit. The night that I made this for dinner I made a soft polenta, but I truly believe the leftovers were better the next day when I cut squares of the cold polenta and sauteed it in a bit of olive oil. The cheese in the polenta became brown and crispy on the outside and was soft, hot, and creamy on the inside. Either way though, it is a filling, hearty meal that is full of protein that won't ruin your new years resolutions.
Fried Polenta with Balsamic Mushrooms and Carrots
adapted from thekitchn.com
1 lb mushrooms, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
3 medium carrots, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2-3 tablespoons oilve oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup instant polenta
1 1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 eggs (depending on how many people are eating, 1 egg per serving)
salt and pepper to taste
Bring water, milk, and 1/4 teaspoons salt to a boil in a small saucepan. When it reaches a boil, whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes with the lid cracked, stirring occasionally. Add the parmesean cheese and stir to combine. **You can make this a day ahead of time. Spread the polenta in a thin layer in the bottom of a baking dish and refrigerate overnight. Heat some oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the polenta until heated through and brown and crispy on the edges.**
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for 2 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant. Add mushrooms, carrots, thyme and balsamic vinegar, stir to coat evenly. Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until mushrooms and carrots are cooked through.
When the polenta and vegetables are fully cooked, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a small non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the eggs over-easy, making sure to leave the yolk runny (this is the best part).
Place a dollop of the creamy polenta (or a fried square of polenta) in the middle of a plate, top with a spoonful of the veggie mixture, and one fried egg. Sprinkle with a little extra parmesean cheese and devour.
This is a wonderfully quick (and inexpensive) weekenight meal, and a great way to use up leftovers. Enjoy!