Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Polenta Steaks with Asparagus Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Burrata

[Photographs: Caroline Russock]

Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine, authors of In the Small Kitchen are masters of entertaining on a budget. They've figured out an ingenious equation to keep their self-proclaimed "dirt cheap dinners" from seeming, well, cheap.

This recipe for Polenta Steaks with Asparagus Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, and Burrata incorporates a few high-end ingredients (burrata, asparagus, and pine nuts) into an otherwise budget-friendly meal, making for plates that look much spendier than they actually are.

The dish begins with polenta "steaks," slabs of chilled polenta that are cut into wedges and fried crisp with a little olive oil. Next comes a mild asparagus-mint pesto made from the stems of blanched asparagus that's dolloped atop the crispy polenta steaks. Cherry tomatoes tossed in salt and olive oil get scattered on top, and the plates are finished with torn bits of creamy burrata and the reserved asparagus tips.

This dish comes in at about $3 a person. It marries high and low price-tagged ingredients to create the illusion of a much fancier meal.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of In the Small Kitchen to give away this week.

Reprinted with permission from In the Small Kitchen by Cara Eisenpress and Phoebe Lapine. Copyright © 2011. Published by William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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