Polenta Hash and Shakshuka

18 May 2018

A relatively time-consuming dish, but a great way to take some time out for yourself this term. This would be a great option for a pre-exam brain-food breakfast if you prepare the evening before, or a really lovely red-wine dinner party option for when it’s all over. The polenta hash can be sliced up smaller and fried in the same way to make polenta chips instead. I’ve provided some vegan/dairy-free alternatives too.

Polenta Hash

~ 200g Polenta
~ 200ml Milk/Non-Dairy Milk for Vegan Option
~ 400ml Cold Water
~ 1 tsp Salt
~ A lot of Pepper (depending on taste)
~ Glug of Olive Oil or Chunk of Butter
~ 1 Bay Leaf
~ ½ cup Parmesan/Nutritional Yeast (add 1tsp Dijon Mustard as well for extra flavour)

Warm the oil or butter in a big non-stick saucepan, then add the polenta and the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir around to coat it all evenly, then add the milk and water, whisking or stirring until it’s all smooth.

Stir every four to five minutes to prevent it sticking to the pan. Ideally, place a saucepan lid haphazardly on top, allowing the steam to escape whilst also preventing boiling splatters from spraying everywhere. If not – stand back while mixing.

Keep up this process until the polenta is thick and coming away from the sides of the pan (between 20/40 minutes)– it should form some sort of a ball, kind of the same consistency as mashed potato. Remove the bay-leaf.

Place on a 1inch deep baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, or onto a plate if you’re gyp room kitchen is lacking in supplies (line with two sheets of kitchen roll). Ideally, find something to weigh the polenta down with (I just wrapped mine in the paper and pressed down). Leave it to stand until it thickens and cools, then slice it into four squares. Set aside.

Shakshuka

~ 1 Aubergine: cut into small chunks (small – like 1cm squared)
~ 1 Red Onion: thinly sliced into strips
~ 1 Red Pepper: same as above
~ 1 Box or Can of Chopped Tomatoes
~ 1tbsp Tomato Puree
~ Optional Seasonings if Available: Fennel Seeds, Chilli Flakes, Cajun Seasoning, Siracha

Add aubergine to a hot pan along with a sprinkle of salt, stir around then keep on adding splashes of water to help it soften and break down (this prevents the aubergine absorbing all the oil straight away/becoming really spongy).

Once the aubergine is looking really pulpy (ten minutes or so), add a splash of olive oil and continue to cook.

Add in a little more olive oil, and before stirring, drop in the fennel seeds, chilli, Cajun, and fry off a little to release the flavour. Squeeze in some tomato puree to fry off also.

Throw in the thinly sliced onion and pepper and continue to cook until soft.

Empty in the chopped tomatoes – I used half a box – and continue to cook until reduced.

Assemble

Heat up oil in a frying pan until hot, then gently place in the polenta hash. Turn over a few times and cook until crispy and golden.

Add the reduced aubergine mix on top of the polenta: skilfully flip it over so that the aubergine sort of sticks to the polenta and caramelises/chars on the bottom.

If you’re not opting for the vegan option, add whatever your preference of an egg may be on top, then sprinkle on some feta, plate up, and add some salad leaves.

Drizzle on some siracha, or balsamic glaze if you have any, drizzle some olive oil.