I love going to the farmers market in the Springtime and marvel at all the bounty that comes after the long and harsh swiss winters. And when I see fresh stinging nettles, I just can't resist buying a bunch or three.
This polenta is a celebration of Spring flavours, a delicious and simple weekend lunch. —sil entre jardins
Heat water with peapods until boiling and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove peapods and blanch nettles for 2 minutes (handle them with rubber gloves to avoid the stinging) and set aside. Blanch peas for 1 minute and set aside.
Now that you have a nice vegetable broth, slowly add the polenta while mixing with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring often and taking extra care as the polenta thickens and starts to spurt and splatter. The polenta is ready when it is creamy and smooth.
While the polenta is cooking, prepare the vegetables: dice the onion, slice asparagus unevenly, coarsely chop the nettles, rosemary, tarragon and sage.
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook onion with a splash of water until translucent, add thinly chopped garlic and asparagus, and cover to cook for 2 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients along with half the cheese, season with sea salt and black pepper and mix together. Remove from heat immediately.
Set grill to 180°C.
When the polenta is ready, pour into a prepared oven dish (with a little olive oil in the bottom), sprinkle with black pepper and grated cheese and pour the vegetable mix. Finish with a bit of grated cheese and give it 10-15 minutes in the oven, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
OPTIONAL : For an extra special presentation, divide the polenta into oiled small cake molds or bowls and press it against the walls to create a hole in the center. Pour vegetable mix, grated cheese and black pepper and cover with a layer of polenta, pressing it gently to close the gaps. Carefully remove from molds after baking and decorate with fresh herbs or vegetable mix.