Brunch Munch: Frittata with Polenta, Undercover

I took a lovely long walk this morning in my dirt road desert neighborhood. It poured down rain for hours last night, and I wondered if maybe I’d be slogging along in mud up to my ankles. But no–someone designed these roads correctly. All of the wild grasses and flowers and chamisa bushes stood stunned in the aftermath of the water onslaught, while puddles caught the sun. But the roads were solid.

To make a long story short, I worked up an appetite. “I hope you’re even a little bit hungry,” I told Laura as I started pulling things out of the fridge, mad scientist style. Eggs. Baby broccoli that was nearing the end of its freshness. An onion. Chicken broth.

I sliced the onion thinly and sauteed it in chicken broth with two chopped garlic cloves. After they got a little soft, I added another half cup of broth and a quarter cup of polenta and let it simmer. I thought it would be nice to make a frittata with a polenta crust. Just on the bottom, not up the sides. While it was softening and melding with the onions, I cracked 4 eggs into a bowl, poured in a splash of skim milk, and then whisked them together with a fork. I checked on the polenta, added a little more broth, stirred, and then chopped up the florets of the baby broccoli, rinsed them in the colander, and put it aside.

I turned the oven on to broil. Poured the egg mixture on top of the polenta (which was by now firm enough not to get all gumped up with the egg). I sprinkled the broccoli evenly over the top of the eggs so that they sank into the eggs a bit, then sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top (to taste), kept the heat on low, and covered the pan so that the eggs could start cooking through.

After about five minutes, I transferred the pot to the top rack of the oven, and turned the light on so that I could keep an eye on it. Within a few minutes, it started to brown, so I pulled it out and let it set for about three minutes.

It worked! I was able to cut it in slices and serve it like a frittata or quiche. The polenta on the bottom was both a little custardy and also had a lovely crispy bottom. Where it met the egg layer, it created a nice softly chewy texture.

This recipe is VERY substitution-friendly. If you have leftover quinoa or brown rice couscous, use that as your bottom layer. If you want to make a bunch of polenta separately, or have leftovers, shmear a big fat layer on the bottom after you’ve sauteed the onions and garlic. It will just need more time to warm through.

Use any vegetables you have around (although if the veggies are watery, it might mess up the egg texture and make it hard to know when they’re cooked). Asparagus, fresh spinach, and peas seem like good alternates. We had sausages on the side, but I think I would have liked some prosciutto or bacon up in there, too.

We also thought that in terms of the cheese on top, sharp white cheddar, grated, would have been delicious…or smoked gouda. It’s the kind of recipe where you don’t need a lot of cheese to liven things up, since there’s so much else to notice.

I need help naming this recipe…so if you have any ideas, let me know. And please share your favorite brunch dishes.

I wish I could post a picture, but we ate it all.

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on Sunday, August 1st, 2010 at 11:51 am and is filed under the flavor.
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