Our cilantro is on the verge of bolting, so we assembled some of our cilantro-using recipes to use it while it’s still good. This one basically decimated two of the three plants. Not necessarily a good choice, to tell the truth, since it’s the recipes that use only part of a bunch from the store that are hard to justify at other times. But this is a terrific meal. This is not a terrific picture, but you can see sort of what the salad is like.
This is from Weber’s Art of the Grill, a beautiful and most excellent quality cookbook. There are three parts to the recipe: Polenta, cooked, spread onto a baking dish and refrigerated, and then grilled; black beans, cooked and made into a salad with onion, roasted red pepper, carrot, lime and cilantro (etc.); and Green Chile Sauce, a mix of sour cream and mayonnaise, with cilantro, garlic, and roasted spicy green pepper (I use poblano) pureed in a Cuisinart. Start way early – the polenta has to cool for 4 hours!
Mix 2 c coarse corn meal with 6 cups water, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper in a large saucepan, whisk till smooth, and bring to a boil over high heat, still whisking constantly. Biol 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer, add 2 Tbsp unsalted butter and 1/4 cup heavy cream (I used whole milk b/c I had it, and upped the butter by a tsp or so), incorporating with a wooden spoon. Simmer till tender, 30-40 mins, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent scorching. Spread onto a baking pan (I use the two for my small oven, which also happen to fit in the fridge), and smooth the surface using a metal spatula dipped (each time!) in water. The polenta should be about 1/2 inch thick. Refrigerate 4 hours to 24 hours (I just stick a plastic bag around it after it’s cool, and then wash the bag later – no waste). When it’s time to serve, brush the polenta with vegetable oil on both sides and grill 8 minutes total, on high heat, turning once. Cut the polenta into desired shapes before grilling, or after, I suppose.
I’ve used 1 can Westbrae black beans, drained but not rinsed, and I’ve also cooked my own. 1 cup dry beans makes about 2 cups cooked, which is more than the recipe calls for, but then, having a few extra black beans lying around is not a problem. Here’s what I did this time: wash 1 cup black beans, and immerse in water to more than cover (be generous) bring to a boil, boil 2 minutes, turn off, cover, and let soak at least an hour. Drain the beans, replace in the pan with water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil, and boil till almost done, 1 – 1 1/2 hours. I added 1/2 tsp salt about 10 minutes before I stopped the cooking and stirred in well, then left the beans in the pan. They got a but on the overdone side, so when the recipe said “drain” at this point, there was nothing that came off.
Add 1/2 cup (one large) finely diced carrot, 1/3 cup finely diced white onion (1/2 moderate/small), 1/2 cup finely diced roasted red pepper [This is two moderate peppers! I had only one. Grill on all sides till just blackened, and then place in a closed, heat resistant container for at least 15 minutes to steam, peel and seed, then chop. Might as well do the poblano at the same time.] Mix together the juice of one lime, 3 Tbsp EV olive oil, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, 1/4 tsp FG black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground cumin. Mix bean stuff and dressing well, then add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (this was most of a plant!) and mix again.
Green chile sauce:
In a whirring thing – I used a small Cuisinart – actually, into a thing that CAN whir, but is not doing so at the moment, place 1 Tbsp roasted green chilis (poblano is good – roasted, steamed, peeled, and seeded along with the red peppers, above), 1 med garlic clove (I chop it up a bit first), 1 Tbsp lime juice (1/2 lime or a bit more), 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves (another plant consumed), 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (this is on the high side – it’s a salty dressing), 1/4 cup EACH sour cream and mayonnaise. Whir now. Notes say the leftover sauce makes an excellent salad dressing, mixed with a thinner (1/2 and 1/2) and a great omelette sauce.
Grill the polenta pieces as above, and serve with bean salad and green chile sauce.
D suggested we have our Vaucluse with this, and it was a fine choice. Domaine la Milliere Vin de Pays Vaucluse, from the North Berkeley Wine sale last summer – a real treat. Earthy – one of our favorite tastes.