This weekend, I sat in front of the television a bit more than I meant to. I flipped between some old movies on TCM (Alfie, Marty, etc.) and the Food Network. On Ultimate Recipe Showdown the theme was “comfort food” which spoke directly to me in the mood I was in. One competitor created “Mini Pumpkin Corn Quesadillas with Brazilian Avocado Butter“. Unfortunately, I did have to scrape myself off the couch and head out to the grocery store to get a few of the ingredients, but it was well worth the trip.
I’ve adapted the original recipe a bit and turned it into “Butternut Squash Polenta bites with Brazilian avocado Butter”. Also, the original recipe as written was a bit difficult to follow so I’ve tried to re-write it a bit to help with the preparation steps. It does take a little bit of stove manipulation, however. I had three pans going at once. If it’s hard for you to multi-task, the final dish won’t be in jeopardy if you decide to cook each layer separately rather than at the same time.
The result of this dish is indeed a tummy warming comfort food that can be a main dish, side dish, or an impressive appetizer. The complex flavors blend well into a really delightful mouthful.
Butternut Squash Polenta Bites with Brazilian Avocado Butter
adapted from a Diana Davis recipe
Brazilian Avocado Butter:
1 ripe avocado
1 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon honey
1/8 cup olive oil
Vegetable cooking spray
12 (1/2-inch) slices plain polenta “chub” purchased form the market
Butter or olive oil, to saute
1/2 finely diced red onion
1/2 cup frozen or fresh pre-diced butternut squash
1/3 cup sweet corn kernels
12 (1/2-inch) slices drunken goat or other mild “meltable” cheese
Jalapeno jelly, for garnish (I found this in the jelly section of my local grocery store)
Prepare the avocado butter first. Cube avocado. (Slice avocado in half and remove pit. Dice avocado inside the skin by holding 1/2 of the avocado in one hand. Then make several slices vertically then horizontally. Turn skin “inside out” to remove avocado into bowl.) Put next four ingredients into bowl.
Cut polenta, onions and butternut squash (if not using pre-diced). Cover baking sheet with tin foil. And, slice cheese into 12 thin strips that are the size of the polenta rounds.
Heat large cast iron skillet or griddle on medium high heat. Spray with vegetable spray. Once heated, add polenta. Flip when each side is browned and crisp. (Be sure that the polenta is browned nicely as it adds a bit of contrast between the other items layered on top of it.)
Meanwhile, heat another pan and add butter. Once melted, saute onions and butternut squash until creamy.
Heat a small skillet and spray with vegetable spray, add corn and toast until corn begins to turn brown.
Once the polenta is browned, remove to baking sheet. When the corn and butternut squah/onion mixture are completed cooking, pre-heat broiler.
The bites are now ready to assemble.