Eight ingredients. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a weeknight feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
Poached eggs and polenta have a brunch vibe, but some touches of green (peas and pea shoots), plus a pesto of walnuts and arugula, help dress up this dish for the dinner table.
Here, soft polenta, which is usually finished with cream or handfuls of cheese, gets texture and richness from a spoonful of olive oil-based pesto and a runny egg yolk. Added at the last minute, a handful of pea shoots lends a crisp finish, though use whatever herbs you have on hand if pea shoots are hard to find.
For the wine, choose a white with a broader body and toned-down aromatics. The dish is about mixing rich textures, rather than letting anything sharp stand out—so too then, the match. A white from the Rhône Valley was on the right track, but had a touch too much fruit. A Chardonnay from Chile, however, was bright, clean and on point with the nuttiness from the pesto.
Pair with a Chardonnay such as Viña Siegel Chardonnay Colchagua Valley Crucero 2011 (85 points, $10)
1. In a medium-size saucepan, bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Sprinkle the cornmeal into the water slowly while whisking, then cover. Cook until the water has been absorbed and the polenta is soft, stirring occasionally, around 15 to 20 minutes. While the polenta is cooking, bring 6 cups of salted water to a boil, add the peas and cook until bright green, around 2 minutes. Strain the peas and reserve. When the polenta is done, turn off the heat, stir in the peas and reserve.
2. Combine the garlic, arugula and walnuts in a food processor. Blend to a rough paste while drizzling in the 1/4 cup olive oil slowly. Season to taste and reserve.
3. In a large open saucepan, bring 3 inches of salted water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. One at a time, crack the eggs into a bowl, then slide each egg into the simmering water. Cook for 4 minutes, or until the yolk has set but not hardened, then remove from the water with a slotted spoon.
4. Assemble each dish with the polenta-and-pea mixture, topped by a tablespoon of the walnut-arugula pesto, an egg and 1/4 cup of pea shoots for garnish. Serves 4.
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