Califonia Bountiful
Side Dish

Polenta with caramelized shallots, roasted asparagus and salsa verde

"At Mora, one of the biggest comments I hear is that people love polenta, but they're scared to make it at home," Executive Chef Mindy Oh said, adding that the Italian staple is surprisingly easy to make. And it's versatile: "Sweet, savory, creamy, tomatoey—it all goes well with polenta."

Chef Mindy Oh
Mora Italiano, Los Angeles

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Salsa verde
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup loosely packed dill leaves
2 brown anchovy fillets
1 tbsp. capers, rinsed well
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Zest and juice of 2 lemons

Shallots and asparagus
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
6 shallots, peeled
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 bunch asparagus
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste

2 cups whole milk
2 cups water
1 cup corn polenta
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
Salt, to taste


For salsa verde: Chop parsley, dill, anchovies and capers together until all pieces are about the same size. Combine with olive oil, lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix well and set aside.

For shallots and asparagus: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a sauté pan, add sunflower oil and shallots. Turn heat to medium and let shallots gently brown. Once they have a nice sear on both sides, add vinegar, cover pan with foil and place in oven. Cook for 15 minutes or until a toothpick pushes into a shallot with no resistance.

Meanwhile, snap asparagus. Reserve woody bottom pieces for another use (such as asparagus soup) and place tender pieces on a baking tray. Roast for 15 minutes while shallots are roasting. Season with olive oil and salt to taste.

For polenta: In a saucepot, bring milk and water to a boil. Gently sprinkle in polenta. For the first 5 minutes, keep stirring the polenta to prevent it from clumping on the bottom and to help rehydrate it–the beginning is always important because this is when the polenta is most likely to burn. After the first 5 minutes, you can let it simmer on its own and stir occasionally. Once polenta no longer tastes gritty, add butter, crème fraîche and cheese. Season with salt to taste.

To serve: Pour polenta into a bowl. Scatter shallots and asparagus on top. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and salsa verde.

Serves 3 to 4

Photo: © 2021 Lori Fusaro

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