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pumpkin polenta with crispy shallots + sage

pumpkin polenta with crispy shallots + sage | photo by: Cassandra Birocco

A hint of pumpkin give this polenta an earthy, fall flavor. It’s a perfect holiday appetizer and works with a simple sauté of just about anything…sliced Brussels sprouts and shallots work well here. These are one, perfect little bite-sized appetizer.

Cooking spray, for coating loaf pan
2 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup polenta (yellow corn grits)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup prepared pumpkin purée
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh sage
2 tablespoons low-sodium vegetable stock
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Coat a loaf pan on all sides with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until mixture is thickened, whisking constantly. Season with pepper. Stir in pumpkin purée and cream. Transfer polenta to loaf pan and smooth out top so mixture is evenly distributed in pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Run a knife along inside of loaf pan to loosen polenta. Place a cutting board just large enough to cover loaf pan over its top and gently flip pan over to remove polenta. Cut polenta into as many 1-inch x 1-inch cubes as needed (reserving any remaining polenta for a later use).
4. In a medium sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for about 5 minutes, until just crispy. Add sage and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until just softened. Add stock and simmer for about 2 minutes, until sauce cooks down a bit.
5. In a non-stick sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Fry polenta pieces until golden brown, without touching, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn polenta over and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Place polenta pieces on a serving plate and top with a little bit of shallot mixture. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately 18 pieces.

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