Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips

Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips

I’ve had Maria Elia’s The Modern Vegetarian for a while, but for one reason or another, I’ve not got round to cooking many of the recipes. I was home alone one Saturday night, so decided to whip up a batch of the Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips with a pot of homemade mayonnaise.

Every time I’ve used express, fast cook type polenta, I’ve been disappointed and this time was no exception. It just tastes watery and had that slightly grainy but flabby and almost rubbery texture about it. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m cooking it properly, but I’ve cooked it to the instructions a number of times now, for a number of different recipes, so either that’s the way it’s supposed to be, or I’m just shite at cooking it. I think I’ll try cooking it for longer than the stated five minutes next time and see if that makes a difference.

The recipe calls for chopping the squash into small dice and adding them to the pan, before adding the polenta, i.e. the squash dice and polenta cook together. But small is relative, how small is small…? I diced mine up to what I thought was relatively small, but I think if I was doing it again, I’d either grate the squash, or roast it and mash it up first. The reason I’d do this, is that mostly, each mouthful was just rubbery, slightly grainy polenta, without much flavour. then you’d get some rosemary and squash and it totally transformed the experience.

Also, it looks to me like the chips in the photo that accompanies the recipe, have a slight orange hue. Indicating to me, that the squash is better distributed in those chips than in mine. I could be totally wrong though, but next time, I think I’ll try grating the squash into the polenta and seeing what difference that makes. I’ll also make them slightly smaller, as they were just a little on the big side, which I don’t think helped matters.

Finally a quick word about the mayonnaise. I made mine using bog standard rapeseed oil, not the fancy cold pressed stuff. Don’t. Just don’t. The resulting mayonnaise was horrible, you could just tell from the taste that it was made with cheap oil. I ended up ditching the mayonnaise in favour of some of my homemade Haw ketchup, a much, much nicer match.

Macaroni Cheese

I love macaroni cheese, I think it’s the combination of pasta and cheese that does it, you canny beat a bit of pasta and cheese, mmmm, pasta and cheese… Anyway, I bought The Geometry of Pasta a while back, I’m not sure why, as it’s not exactly veggie friendly. It’s great to flick through though, as the design of the book is amazing with all the black and white line drawings and any book that tells you how to make Cacio e pepe is a winner as far as I’m concerned.

The recipe for macaroni cheese is quite nice, it doesn’t contain tomato for starters, sorry Felicity, that’s just wrong. It can feel a bit greasy though, which I think it mainly down to the choice of cheese. I need to try it with fontina, rather than cheddar and see if that makes a difference.

Having made this recipe quite a lot, I think the one thing that affects the outcome more than anything else, is the thickness of the bechamel sauce. Too thick and it all becomes a bit of a sticky, lumpy mess when it’s served up. Keeping it on the thinner side, means it’s nice an oozy when served up and feels less like eating a bit greasy brick of pasta.

One other thing about this recipe, is that it claims it serves two as a main course, two giants maybe, as it can easily feed all four of us and leave us all wishing we hadn’t eaten quite as much; so it should serve three normal adults with no worries.

I’ve also been looking at buying Modernist Cuisine at Home, that kind of scientific cooking looks quite interesting, if a bit involved. However, if you do the Amazon look inside thing on this book, you’ll see there is a whole chapter on Mac and Cheese, with a number of different ways of preparing it. The recipes are all there for you to see in the preview, so I’m really tempted to buy some sodium citrate and give a couple of them a try…