lost time: Grilled Romaine with Grilled Polenta Croutons and Manchego

Wow.  Where did the past week go?  Here's one place:  the endodontist for a root canal.  That was root canal number 6 for me, unless I have lost count.  Underestimated the pain and recovery.  Three evenings on vicodin and a good thick haze of exhaustion and not one completed blog post.  I have three in the queue, but I believe they'll need a good edit and fluff up before they make it out on the "interweb".

I volunteered for salad for dinner club this past Saturday and took what Kelly calls "the good salad" with the twist of polenta croutons.  Whole Living magazine gave me that brilliant idea.  I've never actually sat down to read their recipe, but I cooked a pan of polenta, spread it in a pan, chilled it, sliced it and brushed it with olive oil and salt before baking the croutons in a very hot oven.  The whole family tried them before the balance of them were packed up for the trip across town for dinner club.  Great snack and lovely in the salad.

Today was another gorgeous day and a day off for me.  Sara and I hopped on our bikes and cruised 22 miles on the Monon Trail with a mid-ride lunch stop at 3 Sisters Cafe in Broad Ripple.  If you follow my social media posts you saw the amazing barbecued grains on a whole wheat bun that I devoured in record time.  Sara savored her Tofu Scramble and was highly amused at how quickly my lunch disappeared.  Needed a rainy day to get life organized on the second floor of our house, but instead we maximized the day outside.

Dinner was on the back patio in the dappled shade with a slight cool breeze.  I grilled up chicken tenders, steamed broccolini and grilled romaine to make into a salad with my second batch of polenta croutons.  This time I "baked" the croutons on my cast iron grill pan outside.  I have a good hunk of Manchego cheese so I shaved off a little to serve on the grilled salad.  Parmesan would be fabulous too.  So easy.

Lest you be concerned that I broke one of my rules and did not bake today, have no fear.  One of Sara's friends stopped by tonight before heading to Africa on a medical mission so we just had to bake.  Had to. It's a rule.  Look for a post soon on mini cinnamon sugar baked donuts.  Nom. Nom. Nom. as my girls say.

Grilled Romaine with Grilled Polenta Croutons and Manchego

Grilled Polenta Croutons

3 C water
1 C polenta/coarse ground corn meal/corn grits
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
additional olive oil, salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring the water, polenta, olive oil and salt to a boil, stirring until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.  Spray an 8 x 8 x 2 pan with cooking spray.  Spread cooked polenta in pan and smooth.  Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so or the freezer for half and hour or so until it can be cut into croutons.

Heat your grill or preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Brush a tablespoon of olive oil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Turn cubed polenta onto the prepared sheet. Using the oil still on your brush brush the tops.  Either bake the croutons on the sheet in the oven, turning once, for 20-30 minutes until golden or grill them on a hot grill pan for 15-20 minutes watching they do not scorch.

Grilled Romaine

2 small heads romaine lettuce
olive oil
kosher salt
balsamic vinegar
Manchego cheese or Parmesan

Rinse the full head of romaine under cold water.  Shake to remove excess water.  Remove bruised or torn outer leaves.  Keep head in tact.  Roll up in a tea towel to dry.  Cut head in half from top of leaves through base of stem keeping stem on to hold the leaves together.  Drizzle with a little olive oil.  Place on hot grill and grill 3-5 minutes on each side until lettuce is wilted and nice grill marks have been achieved.

Place grilled romaine on a serving platter and grind fresh pepper to taste.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.  Top with warm polenta croutons and shave some cheese on top.

polenta at the beginning

cooking and stirring

chilling in the baking pan

cut for croutons

prepped on baking sheet




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