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Asparagus Polenta with Parmesan
1 cup (firmly packed) fresh spinach
1/2 gallon (2 quarts) water
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1" pieces
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 sachet - 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig thyme, 1/2 T whole peppercorns and 1 peeled garlic clove wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher's twine
1/2 shallot, minced
1 cup polenta
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
Salt to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
1. Use a large, heavy bottomed, stainless steel saucepan.
2. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat. Add chopped asparagus, chopped onion, and sachet. Simmer until reduced by half, about half an hour. (Reduction time may vary significantly; keep an eye on the pot!)
3. While the liquid is reducing, puree the spinach in a blender. Set aside. Clean blender.
4. When the liquid is reduced remove and discard sachet. Pour liquid into blender in batches, pureeing until mostly smooth.
5. Strain pureed liquid and return to saucepan.
6. Add shallot and bring liquid to a boil.
7. Start whisking in polenta, 1/4 cup at a time.
8. Turn heat to medium and stir until grains are soft (10 to 15 minutes)
9. Stir in butter until well incorporated. Taste polenta and season with salt and lemon juice to taste.
10. Just before serving, stir in spinach puree for just long enough for it to warm up in the polenta mixture.