Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Polenta Stuffed Chard with Quick Honey Tomato Sauce

The inspirations for this bubbly dish of goodness came from a few sources.  The first is a recipe for polenta stuffed chard by Gretchen McKay published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The second is a quick pasta sauce recipe in the Best Recipes Cookbook by America's Test Kitchens.  And finally, our recent honey extraction, the big leaves of Swiss chard growing in the garden, and the bumper crop of garlic scapes inspired me to fiddle with both of these recipes.  Though the dish requires a few steps and a little advanced planning (the polenta needs some time to set up), it's not that complicated--and it's delicious!

Truth be told:  you could make this dish with any nice tomato sauce recipe you have--you don't need to have a drop of honey in the house (or garlic scapes for that matter; just substitute some minced garlic cloves).  But this is a blog about cooking with honey, so there's honey in this dish!

For the polenta:
3 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth, or even water if you'd prefer--though you may need a bit more salt)
1 cup of polenta (or coarsely ground corn meal)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt

Lightly oil a 4x10 glass dish (or 8x8).  Bring the broth (or water) to a rolling boil in a sauce pan.  Slowly whisk in the polenta, stirring constantly. Lower the heat so that the polenta barely plops an occasional bubble. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to be sure the polenta does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  When the polenta is very thick, remove from the heat, stir in the butter and the Parmesan, blending well.  Pour the polenta into the prepared glass dish and cool for at least 15 minutes.  Place in the refrigerator to set up for about 30 minutes.  If you're making the polenta well in advance, cover it. It can sit overnight.  When ready to make the rolls, cut the polenta into 12 pieces, about 2x3 inches.

While the polenta is setting up, make the tomato sauce:

For the honey tomato sauce:
3 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 garlic scapes (about 4 inches long), chopped
1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes, chopped
1/8 cup honey
1 tablespoon vodka
4-6 good sized basil leaves, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt to taste.

Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil, letting it heat for about 30 seconds or so.  Add the minced garlic scapes with a pinch of salt and saute for about 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let the scapes brown.

Add the tomatoes, stirring to distribute and bring them to a gentle simmer.  Cook for about 10 minutes so that they become thick and reduce a bit.

Stir in the honey, vodka and basil and cook for a few minutes more then remove from heat.  Taste and check seasoning, adding some salt and pepper (and if you'd like, red pepper flakes).

Prepare the Swiss Chard: 
You'll need 12 large Swiss chard leaves. Wash the leaves and cut the thickest part of the stem out, trying to keep them intact if you can. Put the leaves in a bowl and pour boiling water over to wilt them.  Let them sit in the water for about 6 minutes and then drain in a colander.

For the rolls:
12 wilted Swiss chard leaves (see above)
12 pieces of polenta, about 2x3 inches long
6 1/2 inch slices of mozzarella cheese, cut in half
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Quick Honey Tomato Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cover the bottom of an 9x13 glass baking dish with some of the Quick Honey Tomato Sauce. (I used two 8x8 glass dishes.)

Place a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) on the counter and put one wilted Swiss chard leaf on the towel, blotting it a bit to sop up any water that's clinging.  Place one piece of polenta on the edge of the leaves and top with one piece of mozzarella.  Top with about a tablespoon or so of sauce.  

Fold the leaf over the polenta and cheese like you're making a burrito: fold the side closest to you up first then fold over the two edges.  Roll until the leaf fully covers the polenta, cheese and sauce.

Place the roll in the prepared pan and continue making the rest of the rolls until you fill the pan.  Top the rolls with the remaining tomato sauce then top it all with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes until the dish is hot and bubbly. Let sit for about 10 minutes to cool then serve.  This recipe makes 12 rolls, or enough for 6 people (without seconds!). 


  1. You've officially made me hungry! I love all of the ingredients in this recipe!

  2. Thanks for your note, Allie. I went a little overboard with photos, but I was having a good time. Hope you did something about that hunger!