Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Brunch - Herbed Polenta and Poached Egg with Carrot and Kale Salad

Obe and I just love weekend brunches.  Brunch food, however, is not usually very healthy!  Pancakes, waffles, and eggs benedict are all delicious, but very high in calories and low in nutrients.  So, I've decided to include a brunch recipe each weekend.  That way, we'll still enjoy our favorite weekend tradition without undoing all the hard work we put into eating well throughout the week.

This meal pays homage to those ever-versatile and always beautiful rainbow carrots.  They are sliced, without peeling, so that the bright, bold color is not lost and roasted to al dente perfection.  The polenta is rich and creamy and a little bit goes a long way.  If you want to make a lower-calorie version, omit the milk and replace with vegetable broth or water and cut the amount of cheese in half and sprinkle on top of each serving instead of mixing it in.  But don't forget, a little bit of indulging for one meal a week is usually fine.  We all need to treat ourselves once in a while!

Speaking of treats, I have also included a cocktail with this meal.  Omit the alcohol and you have a healthy and refreshing brunch beverage!

Herbed Polenta and Poached Egg with Carrot and Kale Salad
serves 4

1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup polenta (not instant)
1 tsp. salt
2-3 T fresh sage, minced
2 T fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
4 eggs
1/4 cup vinegar

1 bunch kale, stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
4 small rainbow carrots, washed and sliced into 2 x 1/4-inch pieces
1 T olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste

Make the polenta:  In a medium saucepan, bring milk and vegetable stock to a gentle boil.  Stream in the polenta, while whisking, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir continuously (or at least every two minutes or so) for about 10 minutes.  Add herbs and salt and cook until polenta is thick and grains are soft, about 5 to 10 more minutes.  Add gruyere and stir.

While Polenta is cooking, poach eggs.  Fill a large, shallow pan with water and bring to a boil.  reduce heat to about medium-low (just until water stops bubbling), then add vinegar.  One-by-one, break each egg into a small cup and quickly pour into water.  Cook about 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss carrots and kale with olive oil and salt and bake for about 15 minutes, or until kale is crispy and very lightly browned.  Sprinkle balsamic vinegar and toss just before serving. 

Serve polenta topped with a poached egg and the kale and carrot salad on the side.  Serve with Carrot-ginger cocktail, if desired.

Carrot-ginger cocktail
serves 1

2 oz. Reed's ginger beer (preferable to other brands because it has no corn syrup)
2 oz. Carrot juice
1 oz. Vodka

Chill vodka and a champagne glass in the freezer for 20 minutes or more.  Combine all ingredients and serve.

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