Charred Broccolini with Polenta and Chickpeas
Sometimes I like to feel fancy when I cook, and mostly all it takes is a splash of balsamic and some geometric shapes; case in point here and here. This dinner involved making some very tricky polenta triangles (just kidding they were the easiest part of the meal), roasting stalks of broccolini, and quickly sauteing chickpeas with a splash of balsamic. Et voila!
Broccolini is basically broccoli but with thinner longer stalks, almost like asparagus. I removed the lower leaves from the stalks and chopped off the bottom inch which tends to be stringy and difficult to chew. It is slightly less bitter than broccoli, and infinitely more elegant. I roasted it without tossing until the edges were a browned because I wanted the florets to be crispy and full of that char flavor.
Polenta firms up when it cools so it's easy to spread out and then cut into your desired shapes. Feel free to use this method to make polenta fries, circles, hearts, or wherever your imagination takes you.
1 bunch broccolini, the lower leaves separated from the stalks
1/2 red onion, cut into wedges
1 cup corn grits or polenta
1 can chickpeas, drained
splash balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving if desired
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place broccolini stalks and red onion wedges on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and salt. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes without tossing. Meanwhile, bring three cups of water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and slowly pour in the polenta, reduce heat to low, and stir constantly for five minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside for two minutes. During that time, line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. With the back of a wooden spoon, spread the polenta onto the parchment paper into a thin (about 1/2 inch thick) layer. Let cool to room temperature and firm up. At this point, in a skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the broccoli rabe leaves. Season with a pinch of salt and stir until slightly wilted. Next add chickpeas and a splash of balsamic vinegar, reduce heat to low, and let simmer until the rest of the meal is ready. To serve, cut polenta layer into triangles and top with roasted broccolini + onion, and with the balsamic chickpeas.