Crispy Polenta Squares with sauteed dandelion

Most people would recognise dandelions from their childhood, picking the yellow flowers and blowing the dried seed heads into the wind. They’re often less romantic to grown up gardeners with a desire for an immaculate lawn, but did you know besides popping up everywhere they are also useful? You can use the flowers to make dandelion wine, the leaves and greens for salads (as in this recipe), and even the roots have been used to make a coffee substitute. Have a crack!

Serves approximately 8 as a starter | Prep time – 40 mins plus overnight to set polenta | Cook time – 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of polenta
  • 500 mls of water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup of parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • Butter for greasing
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 6 handfuls of foraged dandelion leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 slices of pancetta, chopped
  • Drizzle of balsamic reduction *for recipe refer to chickweed & mallow salad

Lightly grease a large shallow rectangular tin. Add water and salt to a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Slowly whisk in polenta, reduce heat to low and cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 mins – polenta is cooked when water has absorbed and has become glue like in texture. Once cooked remove from heat and stir through parmigiano reggiano. Pour polenta into tin in a slab desirably no thicker than 2cm, place in fridge to firm overnight.

Remove polenta slabs from tins and slice into small squares 5cm x 5cm in size. Heat a good drizzle of olive oil in fry pan, once hot, add polenta squares and cook in batches on a medium to low heat turning until golden and crispy on both sides, set aside.

Place pancetta in frypan and fry until crispy, remove from pan. Using the same pan sauté garlic for 30 seconds then add the dandelion followed by a splash of water and fry, remove from heat when just wilted. Stir crispy pancetta through dandelion and place a small mouthful on each polenta square, top with a small drizzle of balsamic reduction and serve.