Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Veggie Ragu

This dish is pure comfort food if you ask me. It’s hearty enough for a cold winter’s night, but still light enough to be a great transitional meal when spring hasn’t quite decided if it wants to be hot or cold yet. The meat and vegetables make it both filling and nutritious. You will get a lot of leftovers out of this recipes, which is a plus in my book. I also thought that the ragout tasted even better then next day.

Polenta is not everyone’s favorite food, but I happen to really like it. I think it makes a great base for a meal and keeps amazingly well for leftovers. You can top it with just about anything. I really like making my polenta with added goat cheese. It gives it both a creamy and tangy bite that I think goes really well with tomato based sauces.

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

For the Turkey Ragout:
  • 1 1/4 pound extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (14 1/2) ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For the Polenta:

  • 1 cup quick-cooking/instant polenta
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, slightly crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For Serving (optional):
  • Pesto
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain off any extra fat.
  2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil. When heated add onions and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in carrots, zucchini and garlic, along with undrained tomatoes, broth and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and cook on low-heat until all the vegetables are cooked through and tomato and broth have slightly thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare polenta according to package directions. I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth for extra flavor. When polenta is almost cooked through, stir in goat cheese and butter.
  5. Spoon polenta into individual serving bowls and top with ragout mixture over polenta. Top individual bowls with pesto and garnish with basil and freshly ground pepper.

 

Grilled Shrimp with Chive Polenta Cakes

When I first saw this recipe I thought “Shrimp. Polenta. Chives. Sold.” Three things that I like all together in one meal, it definitely had to be made.

The other thing I really liked about this recipe that it’s one that can be prepared ahead of time and cooked as you are just about to serve it in under 10 minutes. I also think it looks much ‘fancier’ than the preparation involved. I’m sure it would impress just about any dinner guest.

I also took some liberties with the shrimp. I don’t think they really mind, they probably enjoyed it. The original called for basil, which I am so totally not a fan of. Basil = grosssssss. I am, however, a firm believer that it is not a real meal unless there are mass quantities of  garlic and paprika involved (you can take the girl out of Hungary…).  

Grilled Shrimp with Chive Polenta Cakes (adapted from this recipe)

Chive Polenta Cakes:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pyrex dish
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • small bunch of chives
Grilled Shrimp
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. minced onion
  • 1 tbsp. oregano, dried or fresh
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Butter a Pyrex dish (the original recipe calls for an 8×8, I used something that was more like a 6×10, worked just as well). In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk, cornmeal, and butter, and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, over medium high heat. When mixture begins to simmer, add salt, chives and goat cheese , and keep stirring until thick, about 15 minutes. Pour into prepared pan and allow to cool and thicken until thick enough to slice, about 3 hours.

Place shrimp, olive oil, paprika, garlic, onion, some big pinches of salt and pepper, and oregano in a large bowl and toss to combine; place in the fridge until polenta has set.

When polenta has set, you can either cut the polenta into slices in the pyrex or un-mold the polenta onto a cutting board and cut it there. Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.

Gently grill polenta slices until grill marks form, and polenta is heated though, about 8 minutes. Remove from grill and reserve. Grill shrimp until pink and beginning to char, about 3 minutes per side.

The most exciting part of the whole meal was the accompanying side salad! What’s so exciting about lettuce you ask? Well, this was the first harvest from out our garden! I maintain that our homegrown, organic, pesticide-free, raised with tender love and care lettuce tasted much better than what we get at the store, but Mama CC says there was no difference… I like my story better.

I served the lettuce with a little mustardy vinaigrette which is super simple to make a goes with just about any salad.

Mustardy Vinaigrette

  • 1 big spoonful of dijon mustard (I normally use grainy, but we were out)
  • 1 big glug of olive oil
  • 1 medium glug of white wine vinegar
  • Garlic, fresh, minced or I like to use Garlic Gold Nuggets
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper