I've been having some dental treatments this month, so I'm treating my mouth with a little extra care and trepidation. There've been soups and smoothies and the odd soothing bowl of ice cream, soft breads and sautes. Eventually I messed up, ordering yoghurt at a cafe that arrived with granola all over it - those deliciously crunchy quinoa clusters easily snapped one of my temporary plastic 'teeth'.
While I walked home early to book an extra repair appointment, Michael shopped for this blessedly gentle meal. It's based on a low key recipe shared by 'kitchen hand' on his long-running blog, What I Cooked Last Night, and it dates all the way back to 2007. A leek is cooked in white wine until very soft, then teamed with (mock, in our case) bacon, a can of white beans and plenty of parsley; it's all piled on top of soft polenta. It's warming, savoury, comforting. Soft enough for my beleaguered mouth, but varied enough in texture and flavour to enjoy in good health too.
White beans, 'bacon' & leeks on polenta
(slightly adapted from a recipe on What I Cooked Last Night)
70g mock bacon
1 large leek
1 can white beans (e.g. canellini, butter, ...)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1L 'chicken' stock
1 cup polenta
3/4 cup parmesan, grated (omit for a vegan version)
salt and pepper
Chop the mock bacon into 1cm squares. Finely slice the leek. Drain the beans.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frypan and cook the mock bacon until it's dark and a bit crisp. Transfer the mock bacon to a plate. Heat the second tablespoon of oil in the frypan, add the leek and the white wine. Cover the pan and cook the leeks over low heat for 10 minutes.
While the leeks are cooking, bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk the polenta into the stock and, once it's back up to a boil, turn down the heat. Stir the polenta continously as it cooks and thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parmesan until it's melted and season to taste. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the polenta to keep it warm.
When the leeks are very soft, take off the lid. Add the drained beans, parsley and 'bacon' to heat them through.
Spoon the polenta into shallow bowls and pile the leek mixture on top to serve.