I can’t get enough of sea vegetables. We’ve been living on coasts for the past couple of years so I take the liberty of calling them a local food. Dulse, the red wine-hued sea vegetable in this recipe, provides a deep umami flavor to this dish. And what is this dish? It’s like Thanksgiving in April but with fresh green beans.
This dish covers all of the bases. The green beans have a crisp texture and are as fresh as can be this time of year. In order to maximize the amount of crisp on my polenta, I scooped scant tablespoons directly onto a baking sheet. This gave me rustic round-ish balls of creamy polenta housed in a world of crisp. The yams are cubed, roasted and provide great color and sweetness to the dish. An infused garlic and sage oil gives the dish a beautiful sheen and is also a handy way for the crispy dulse to stick to everything.
It’s been said (over and over again) that timing is everything. This recipe is no exception. This recipe is written in sequence; just like I made it in my own kitchen.
Green Bean, Polenta (and Yam) Skillet with Garlic and Sage Oil
Yield: 6-8 servings
1/2 cup millet, rinsed twice
1.5 cups water
1 cube vegetable boullion (optional)
1 yam, cubed, approx. 3 cups (optional)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup lightly packed dulse
14 leaves fresh sage
3/4 pound (approx 3 cups) fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into thirds on the bias
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
Heat the oven to 350. You’ll bake the dulse, sage, polenta and yams all at the same temperature.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Prepare another large pot with ice water. We’ll use them to blanch and shock the green beans.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; one is for the dulse and sage first (and then the polenta) and the other is for the yams.
Bring millet and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 35 minutes. Stir occasionally. Stir vigorously the last minute or two of cooking time to release starch from grain. Using a lightly oiled tablespoon, scoop out scant spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. The less perfect the scoops are, the better. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the yam into 3/4″ cubes. If your yam is organic, you can leave the skin on. Otherwise, peel it. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on the baking sheet and cook for 30-35 minutes.
Unfold dulse pieces and inspect for any small shells or pebbles. Spread out on a baking sheet with 6 sage leaves. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until dulse leaves turn greenish and sage leaves are crispy. Remove dulse and sage from sheet to cool. Reserve parchment.
Place a colander in the large pot with the boiling water. Dump in the green beans and allow them to cook for about 2 1/2 minutes. You want them to be bright green and still crunchy. Remove the whole colander with the green beans and plunge into the ice water. This will stop the cooking process. Remove after several minutes when completely cool.
Gently heat olive oil over low-medium heat. Add garlic slices and 8 torn sage leaves. Heat for 3-4 minutes. Do not brown garlic. Remove from heat and allow to infuse until needed. Strain before using.
Mix yam cubes, green beans, polenta balls in a large bowl. Drizzle with garlic sage oil. Crumble dulse and crispy sage leaves with your hands. Fold it all together.
This dish is best served at room temperature. However, it warms up like a charm and isn’t too shabby straight out of the refrigerator either.