Grilled polenta with cavolo nero and spinach

These tasty polenta cakes served with spinach, cavolo nero and spinach are beautiful served warm topped with freshly grated cheese as a tasty starter or light lunch.

  • 35 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
  • Print


Grilled polenta with cavolo nero and spinach
  • 1.25 litre water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 gram instant polenta
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 225 gram cavolo nero
  • 100 gram free-range streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 100 gram baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, to squeeze
  • freshly shaved parmesan, to serve


Grilled polenta with cavolo nero and spinach
  • 1
    Bring water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add salt, then shake in polenta from a height, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. If you add the polenta too fast it will form lumps (if this happens, fish them out because they will not break down during cooking).
  • 2
    Once all polenta is added, turn the heat to low and cook, giving 3-4 good stirs every 20 seconds or so, for 5 minutes; polenta splatters as it cooks, and it’s hot, so protect your hand with a tea towel or oven glove.
  • 3
    Sprinkle a shallow tin (like a swiss roll tin) with water, pour in polenta and quickly spread it out with a damp knife until smooth. Leave it to cool, then cover and chill (it can be prepared up to 48 hours in advance).
  • 4
    Cut into squares and brush with olive oil. Pan fry in a very hot ridged frying pan or cook over a barbecue grill.
  • 5
    Use a sharp knife to strip the cavolo nero leaves away from the stems; discard stems. Roughly chop leaves. Cook in gently boiling salted water for 7 minutes, drain and refresh with cold water. Drain and, when cool, press to extract excess water.
  • 6
    Put bacon in a large frying pan with the olive oil and cook over a medium heat for several minutes until golden; you’ll need to stir often to brown evenly.
  • 7
    Add shallots and cook for a few minutes more until golden. Stir in rosemary and garlic, then add nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Transfer half the mixture to a side plate.
  • 8
    Increase heat under pan and add cavolo nero. Toss well to coat with the bacon and shallot. Turn off the heat and stir in spinach. Spoon on top of grilled polenta and top with reserved bacon and shallot.
  • 9
    Finish with a little squeeze of lemon juice and shavings of parmesan.

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