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April 11, 2013
Early spring is the perfect time of year to eat vegetarian. Meals without meat can be totally satisfying when the flavor combination is just right. This week I am pairing (store bought) polenta (firm corn meal) with wilted fresh spinach and Italian cheeses.

Pan Seared Polenta with Spinach and Italian Cheeses

1 pound log firm polenta

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 - 10 oz. bags baby spinach

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded Italian blend cheese

1 1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces

salt and pepper to taste

Cut polenta into ½-inch slices and brush each side with a bit of olive oil. Season each side with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium to slightly higher heat and sear polenta slices until golden brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer polenta slices to a greased baking dish and place slices side by side.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In same skillet cook spinach, in batches, until just wilted, then transfer to a colander to drain. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add chopped garlic and cook for a few minutes, until garlic is just beginning to brown.

Place drained spinach in a medium bowl and add olive oil garlic mixture. Toss in Parmesan cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper pleasing your palate. Arrange spinach mixture over polenta slices. Sprinkle shredded Italian blend cheese over spinach then scatter with toasted pecan pieces.

Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese has melted and heated throughout.

I got this idea from Mario Batali (he makes his polenta from scratch). Simple, fresh ingredients layered together. Got leftovers? Fry an egg on top.

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