I have a secret: I go to 13 Celsius for the food, not the wine.

That’s not saying anything about the quality of their wine—I’ve had amazing glasses there, particularly on Sundays, when they have 50% off open bottles—it’s about the allure of their food offerings. What stands out most in my mind is this salad: an unlikely but incredibly flavorful combination of grapes, eggs, gorgonzola cheese, asparagus and polenta. Powered solely by the cooking prowess of a single panini grill at the end of the bar, I figured if they could make this with one tiny indoor grill, we could all try to recreate it at home.

Making polenta from scratch is cheap and easy enough to do, but it takes a bit of time. You can easily buy tubes of polenta at the store—with the help of pre-made polenta, this comes together in a snap! The creaminess of a soft-fried egg over golden rounds of polenta, fried until a tiny bit crunchy on the outside and creamy in the middle, all over tangy crumbles of gorgonzola, snappy asparagus, and juicy grapes and perfectly dressed greens makes for a salad you won’t want to miss.

Polenta, Gorgonzola Salad

Serves: 2

Ingredients

For the polenta:
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta (or a tube of store-bought polenta)

For the salad dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper

For the salad:
2-4 eggs
4 stalks asparagus
4 cups salad greens
½ cup grapes, cut in half
crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Instructions

To make polenta from scratch: Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Bring 3/4 cup salted water to a boil and carefully whisk in the polenta. Stir until polenta is completely incorporated and let cook for one minute before removing from heat (if polenta seems too thick to pour, add more water a ¼ cup at a time). Immediately pour onto your prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth the polenta into a ½-inch thick layer. If a spatula isn’t working, try using a piece of wax paper or parchment paper to smooth the polenta into a flat layer, using a dishtowel between your hand and the paper since the polenta will be hot! Stick the pan in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, or until firm.

Once firm, remove the polenta from the freezer and use a biscuit cutter or an upside-down glass to cut out circles from the polenta. Fry the circles in a little butter or olive oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned.

If using store-bought polenta: Cut into ½-inch slices. Fry in a little butter or olive oil over medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until browned.

Once the polenta is done, grill the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until crisp-tender. Cook the eggs (we like over easy, but cook them however you like), whisk the salad dressing ingredients together and toss the greens in the dressing. Top the greens with polenta, asparagus, an egg or two, grapes and cheese.

Erika Kwee

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