Irish Examiner Saturday - Irish Examiner - Weekend

Michelle Darmody

- Michelle Darmody

After all the sweet food at this time of year it might be nice to bake some savoury treats. The vegetarian sausage rolls are perfect if someone in the house is vegetarian, but they are also tasty enough to satisfy people more accustomed to the meatier version.

Polenta is a very versatile ingredient, it can be used to make a soft warm accompanim­ent to meal, similar to mashed potatoes, or it works well baked in chunks like an oven chips. Here it is used as a base for a canapé or snack. I have topped it with beetroot hummus and a boquerone, which are Spanish anchovies with less salt than the more common varieties. But you can use anything, a little chunk of ham and a dollop of cranberry sauce or some ricotta cheese and a sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Polenta is basically cornmeal cooked with care, it comes either finely or coarsely ground. The fine polenta cooks quicker and has softer texture which is ideal in this recipe, the coarse ground stuff can have a nuttier flavour and works well as that substitute for mash. The stock that you use is quite important, polenta done badly can be stodgy and bland, it is the stock and cheese that give it the comforting feeling.

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