There’s something so arrogant about some kinds of cooks and some types of cooking. I remember when I lived in Portland, I couldn’t buy grits, for maybe a $1 a carton in a grocery store, but every restaurant had a prerequisite “polenta” entrée. For $12.95.
(For those of you who don’t know. “Polenta” is what restaurants call cold packed “grits,” cut into round discs and sautéed in some oil.)
So, my story really does continue:
The Thanksgiving-before-last, I ended up with a large cooked pumpkin. I had roasted it in preparation for a recipe and a dinner that never happened. Thus, the household had a couple types of pumpkin soups, it was served as a side vegetable for a couple dinners, I mixed it with cream cheese for a spread and finally, when I had just a couple cups of soft diced pumpkin left, I sautéed some polenta, and added the pumpkin at the last moment just to warm. I put the warm pumpkin and sautéed polenta on salad plates of baby spinach, added a couple fingerfuls of craisins and croutons, applied a light vinaigrette and there was dinner. There was probably some feta cheese sprinkled in there somewhere because this was the same time I was bartering goat cheese for a fully cooked entrée-to-go a couple times a week.
My point being, I made a salad out of leftover pumpkin and whatever I had available in the refrigerator and some spice jars. It took 15 minutes tops. As I was trying to “formalize this recipe” for submission, I first checked epicurious.com for any similar recipes.
So, here comes the end of the point I’ve been trying to make. Yes, there is a similar recipe. The estimated food preparation time is 1 ¾ hours to 5 hours. You use argula as greens instead of baby spinach. And, instead of using craisins as the little bit of “sweet” in the salad, you literally “candy” raw pumpkin seeds which, according to the recipe reviews, was nearly impossible and abandoned by most. I guess candied pumpkin seeds trump craisins and croutons. Oh, and instead of feta cheese, you use a 16 oz. heft of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Oh, and you have to make your polenta from scratch.
So, act like you have a brain: buy some baby spinach, your cheese of choice, some craisins and one of the rolls of polenta. Bake or roast the pumpkin or acorn squash ahead of time and dice into large cubes. Lay out your spinach, cook your polenta, roll the pumpkin around the skillet to warm it and then lay it down lightly on the spinach leaves. Add your chosen cheese and craisins and croutons if you have any on hand.
It’s actually a fantastic salad.
Or, apply for a new credit card, set aside a day, look at the list below and get moving. They say it can take up to 5 hours in preparation.