Maple Pumpkin Polenta

Yesterday, Gigi Hudson Valley participated in a great event in support of Olana, the historic estate just outside Hudson. The fundraiser was entitled “Eat for Art’s Sake.” Each participating Hudson Valley eatery who volunteered their services, created a dish to be sampled at the gala, inspired by one of Frederick Church’s paintings (the artist who also built Olana in 1870.)

Gigi’s owner, Laura Pensiero,  chose “Clouds Over Olana”.

Inspired by the painting, Gigi Hudson Valley presented a Vegetable Hash over Maple Pumpkin Polenta. While the dish was not a literal interpretation of the painting, it served as inspiration, and it allowed Gigi HV to take advantage of great local and seasonal ingredients! As Laura noted, “It’s a very colorful plate that went with the back drop of the setting and  looked like a fall day. What we were trying to do was grab the season and bring that into the food, which this painting seemed to represent best.  We used Hudson Valley ingredients: New York State maple syrup and polenta from Wild Hive Farm and Store, in Clinton Corners,  with pumpkin from Mead Orchards, in Tivoli, as well as carrots, turnips. squash, and celery.”

We thought we would share the recipe for the Maple Pumpkin Polenta, enjoy!

Maple Pumpkin Polenta

This is among the most popular side dishes during the fall and winter months at Gigi Trattoria. The addition of pumpkin and maple syrup adds a seasonal and a festive hue to polenta. We buy ground cornmeal from Wild Hive Farm in nearby Clinton Corners. Any coarse grain cornmeal can substitute. Enjoy the slightly sweet notes balanced by a little spice from cayenne pepper.

Serves 4

1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups finely ground yellow cornmeal
1½ cups pumpkin puree (boiled,drained,and pureed or 100 percent natural canned pumpkin)
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tablespoon butter

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt and the olive oil, reduce the heat to simmer, and gradually whisk in the cornmeal, a small amount at a time, to prevent clumping. Reduce the heat to low and cook the polenta, stirring often, until tender and it is pulling away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes. Stir in the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and cayenne and cook another minute or two, then remove from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano Reggiano and the butter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm.

Nutrition: Polenta (cornmeal) is a whole grain. The pumpkin contributes enough beta-carotene to supply about 25 percent of your daily needs of vitamin A.

Note: This recipe can be found in the Gigi Good Food Cookbook, Hudson Valley Mediterranean.

Kale Two Ways

Tuscan kale, also known as Lacinato kale, Tuscan cabbage, Italian kale, Dinosaur kale, cavolo nero, and black kale, thrives during all three growing seasons of the Hudson Valley. It’s especially available during these steamy summer months, and we’re taking full advantage….  We present it to you direct from Migliorelli Farms in our retail cases at Gigi Market and throughout our menus in both locations.  I thought I’d give you two different approaches to enjoying it; cooked and raw.

Cooked Kale

Gigi ‘LACINATO’: Sautéed Kale with Towne & Country Sausage

This is a new lunch and dinner side at the Trattoria in Rhinebeck, and part of our new summer menu.  Enjoy this sautéed Italian black kale with Towne and Country spicy sausage or simply with garlic and Gigi extra-virgin olive oil.

Makes 2-3 servings

1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 ounces (about 2 links) Towne and Country spicy sausage, sliced or crumbled
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ pounds Tuscan kale, stems removed and leaves chopped, then rinsed and spun
Salt
2 tablespoons white wine
1 cup water

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the shallots, sausage, and red pepper flakes, and cook until the shallots and sausage just begin to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and toss to combine. Stir in the kale and season with salt. Cook the kale, tossing or stirring to evenly wilt, then add the white wine and cook until fully evaporated. Add the water and cook until the kale is tender and the pan is almost dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy hot or at room temperature.

Click here to watch a brief video of this dish being made.

Raw Kale

Massaged Kale Salad

My friends (and Gigi devotees :)) Peter Amendola and Jerry Paglieri, shared this “massaged” raw kale salad with me, saying they often make it when entertaining and receive consistent raves from their guests. The acidity in the lemon juice “cooks” the thinly sliced kale making it tender and flavorful. Jerry became a fan when first trying Aati Sequeira’s recipe; as a confident cook he fined tuned it to his tastes and made it his own.

Makes 4 servings

1 large bunch Tuscan kale stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
fresh juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds

In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the maple syrup and a healthy amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stream the olive oil into the bowl while whisking.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the peaches and pumpkin seeds. Toss and serve.

Enjoy!

-Laura