Ricotta-Spinach Polenta with Tomato Salad from Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sarah DiGregorio

The weather is slowly getting a bit cooler here in NYC, and we all know what that means–it’s time to bring out our slow cookers to make warm, delicious comfort food. This season we’ll be using a new cookbook from Sarah DiGregorio, which redefines the recipes you might traditionally think of as “slow cooker recipes.” Her cookbook, Adventures in Slow Cooking, revamps the slow cooker for the modern home cook. It’s full of ingenious ideas and 120 delicious recipes for maximizing this favorite time-saving kitchen appliance and making it easier than ever to use.

In Adventures in Slow Cooking, Sarah shows that it’s not just about getting dinner on the table—it’s about using a slow cooker to make fabulous dinners and desserts. Today we’re sharing a sneak peek recipe from the cookbook–Ricotta-Spinach Polenta with Tomato Salad–that strikes the perfect balance between fresh flavors and luxe comfort. We’re thinking about our slow cookers in an entirely new way!

Adventures in Slow Cooking goes on sale October 10. Pre-order a copy from your favorite retailer today. Also, head over to Eat Your Books to find out how you can enter for a chance to win one of three KitchenAid slow cookers and a signed copy of the cookbook!

Ricotta-Spinach Polenta with Tomato Salad

Polenta is often used as a neutral carb canvas for a rich sauce or braised meat, but here the creamy ricotta-and-spinach-enriched polenta is the centerpiece, with a simple little tomato salad on top for freshness. An egg on top is great, but optional.

  • 1 1/2 cups polenta (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 loosely packed cups)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the eggs
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black  pepper
  • 4 large eggs (optional)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup whole or part-skim milk ricotta

1. Combine the polenta with 6H cups water in a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker. Add the butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Cover and cook on LOW until the polenta is thick and tender, about 6 hours.
2. With the slow cooker on LOW, stir the polenta well and then stir the spinach into the polenta in 2 batches, covering the cooker and letting the first batch wilt before adding the second, about 5 minutes per batch.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss together the tomatoes, oil, and vinegar. Season the tomato salad with salt and pepper.
4. Optional: Pour a thin layer of oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat and crack 4 eggs into the pan. Season the eggs with salt and pepper and cook until the whites are golden brown, lacy on the edges, and just set in the middle, and the yolks are still a little jiggly, about 3 minutes.
5. Fold the Parmesan and ricotta into the polenta. Taste and season the polenta with salt if necessary. Stir in warm water by the tablespoon if the polenta is looking too thick for your taste—keep in mind it will continue to thicken as it cools. Top bowls of the polenta with the tomato salad and, if you like, the fried eggs.
Good to know: If you’re cooking for strict vegetarians, don’t use imported Parmesan (the good stuff!) because it’s probably made with animal rennet. Instead, seek out a domestic “parmesan” (the okay stuff) that’s labeled vegetarian, like the one made by BelGioioso.

Holds well on warm through step 1 for up to 3 hours

Prep time: 5 minutes

Finish time: 20 minutes

Slow-cook time: 6 hours

Equipment: 5-to 7-quart slow cooker

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