Crunchy polenta, asparagus and peas

Alessandro Gavagna's innovative crunchy polenta dish makes a beautiful vegetarian starter recipe during the spring and summer months. With layers of crisp polenta, creamy asparagus sauce and vibrant pea purée, this verdant savoury mille-feuille showcases some truly stunning seasonal ingredients. The polenta and asparagus can be cooked on a grill but, if you are planning an al fresco feast, would work equally well cooked on a barbecue.

First published in 2016

Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Crunchy polenta

Asparagus filling

  • 200g of white asparagus
  • 100g of asparagus
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g of peas
  • 175ml of white wine
  • olive oil
  • milk
  • salt
  • pepper

Pea cream

  • 100g of peas
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • 50ml of vegetable stock
  • salt
  • pepper

To serve

  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch of white asparagus

Equipment

  • Blender

Method

1
Begin by preparing the polenta dough. In a large bowl, mix together the polenta and semolina flours until well combined. Make a well in the centre and add the egg, bit by bit, until the mixture begins to come together to form a dough – this may not require all of the egg
2
Knead the dough until it achieves a soft, smooth consistency, then wrap in clingfilm and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes
3
Meanwhile, cook the peas for the asparagus filling and pea purée. Bring a small pan of salted water to the boil and simmer the peas for 2 minutes, until tender. Drain the peas and measure out 50g for the asparagus filling, setting the remaining peas to one side until needed
  • 150g of peas
4
For the asparagus filling, place a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion in a dash of olive oil until tender. Slice the asparagus into thin pieces and fry well until beginning to catch
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 200g of white asparagus
  • 100g of asparagus
5
Deglaze the pan with white wine and add the cooked peas. Stir through enough milk to achieve a sauce-like consistency. Season to taste and set aside, keeping warm until ready to serve
  • 175ml of white wine
  • milk
  • pepper
  • salt
6
For the pea cream, sauté the onion and shallot in olive oil. Add the cooked peas and season with salt and pepper, then add the vegetable stock and allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 50ml of vegetable stock
7
Transfer the mixture to a blender a blitz to form a smooth purée, adding a little more water or vegetable stock if required to loosen the consistency. Season well to taste and keep warm
8
Remove the rested polenta dough from the fridge and roll into a thin, even layer. Cut out 16–20 squares measuring roughly 6x7cm and arrange across a baking tray
9
Cook the polenta squares under a hot grill – or, alternatively, on a preheated barbecue – until crisp and beginning to char. While the squares are cooking, slice the green and white asparagus in half lengthways and again widthways, adding these to the hot grill and cooking until blackened
  • 1/2 bunch of white asparagus
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus
10
To serve, drizzle a few spoonfuls of the pea cream onto each plate and place a square of crunchy polenta on top. Spoon some of the asparagus filling on top of the square and cover with another square. Repeat another 3–4 times, using up all the filling and polenta squares, and garnish with the grilled asparagus

With a love for the region of Friuli and its ingredients, Alessandro Gavagna's unique food is a perfect marriage of Italian and Slovenian cuisine.

Get in touch

Please sign in or register to send a comment to Great British Chefs.

You may also like

Load more