2 cups polenta (about 12 ounces): $1.20 1 bunch broccoli rabe: $2.99
Pantry items: Butter, salt, olive oil, garlic, crushed chile flakes
Total cost (for 4 portions): $4.19
I only started making polenta last winter, when I discovered Madhur Jaffrey's convenient method of cooking it in the oven: no prolonged stirring, no forearms burned by eruptions of scalding cornmeal. Even though it's inexpensive and quite good for you, fresh-cooked polenta tastes rich and special: The first time I served it to Andrew, he asked how much butter and cheese it contained, suspicious that I was trying to give him an instant heart attack. In fact, I had stirred in only two tablespoons of butter and no cheese at all.
The broccoli rabe, on the other hand, is doused in olive oil, but I think it's worth it. The sharp and peppery flavors of the greens and oil contrast beautifully with the creamy polenta. Since four servings of this luxurious dish don't quite hit the $8 mark, I'd use the difference to buy a piece of cheese to eat afterward or alongside.
Polenta Cooked in the Oven
- Yield:4 generously
- Dab of unsalted butter or olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/4 pounds broccoli rabe
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed chile flakes
Put the cornmeal into a bowl. Slowly add 3 cups of water, stirring with a wooden spoon as you do so.
Put 4 1/2 cups water into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the salt. Stir the cornmeal mixture again and then slowly pour it into the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon as you do so. Bring to a boil, stirring all the time. The mixture will thicken very quickly into a homogeneous paste. Quickly pour this paste into the baking dish, smooth over the top with the back of your wooden spoon, cover, and bake for 50 minutes.
Serve as is (perhaps stirring in a small slice of butter or some grated cheese) or cool, cover, and refrigerate. Polenta that has cooled will firm up and may be toasted or fried.
Broccoli Rabe with Garlic
- serves 4 -
Cut the coarse stems off the broccoli rabe and wash it well. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Put 2 teaspoons salt into the water and then add the broccoli rabe. Cover, bring to a boil again, and boil rapidly for 2 minutes, or until just tender. Drain and rinse immediately under cold running water. Drain and set aside until just before eating.
Put the oil and garlic into a large frying pan and set over medium heat. When the oil begins to sizzle and the garlic turns a light golden color, put in the broccoli rabe. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon salt and the chile flakes and stir gently to mix. Turn the heat to low and turn the greens gently until heated through.