MMMM! Try these out at your next party. Definitely more involved than a plate of cheese and crackers, but you get the reward of a delicious appetizer for your guests as the result! The good news is, you can make the polenta bites days in advance and plan ahead, so your party day won’t be spent slaving over the finger foods! Gotta give a big thank you to Recipe Girl for the recipe…it’s out of this WORLD! Enjoy!
2 2/3 cups whole milk
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup yellow cornmeal or polenta (try Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta)
1/3 cup olive oil (more or less), for frying
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 ounces goat cheese, cut into small chunks
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained & cut into smaller pieces
chopped pistachio, optional
1. Prepare polenta bites: Lightly oil 13×9-inch baking pan. Bring first 4 ingredients to simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat; simmer 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove herbs and garlic. Whisk in cornmeal in a slow steady stream; return to boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until the polenta is very thick, whisking often, about 10 minutes. Turn polenta out into prepared pan; spread to 1/2-inch thick layer- don’t worry about making it perfect- just spread it out as even as you can. Let it cool completely. When the polenta is cool, use a 1 to a 1 1/2-inch round cutter to cut out 24 to 30 polenta rounds (as many as you can).
2. Prepare pesto: Place basil, pistachios and cheese in a mini processor Blend to create a coarse puree. Add olive oil and blend until pesto is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Pour about 1/3 cup olive oil into a large nonstick skillet to coat the bottom; heat over medium-high heat. Saute polenta rounds until they are lightly browned, about 1 minute on each side; transfer to paper towels to drain.
4. Assemble: Top each polenta round with a small amount of pesto, a chunk of goat cheese and sundried tomato. Add a few chopped pistachios too, if you’d like. Finish them with a sprinkle of sea salt.
*Make-ahead tip: Prepare the polenta rounds as described in step 1 up to two days ahead; cover and chill.
*Make ahead tip: Prepare the pesto up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill. For a quick & easy sub- use store bought pesto in place of the homemade.
*Make ahead tip: Fry the polenta rounds up to 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature, then re-warm in 375 degree oven for 5 minutes before adding toppings and serving.
*Serve this warmed, but they’re still good when they come to room temperature too.
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