8 & $20 Recipe: Poached Eggs on Polenta with Chardonnay

Arugula-walnut pesto adds a layer of complexity to the dish
Mar 27, 2012

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.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Walnut-Arugula Pesto


Pair with a Chardonnay such as Viña Siegel Chardonnay Colchagua Valley Crucero 2011 (85 points, $10)

  • 1 cup cornmeal polenta
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup high-quality olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup pea shoots

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.

Cooking Pairings Recipes

You Might Also Like

8 & $20: Smoky Jalapeño Mac and Cheese with an Australian White

8 & $20: Smoky Jalapeño Mac and Cheese with an Australian White

A comforting pasta dish complements a crisp Sauvignon Blanc blend in this simple, adaptable …

May 27, 2020
5 Favorite Recipes: Steaks for a Cookout

5 Favorite Recipes: Steaks for a Cookout

For Memorial Day in the backyard, 4 pros and a home cook share their go-to rubs, sauces and …

May 15, 2020
Sweeten Mother’s Day with Frasca’s Fresh Strawberry Tart

Sweeten Mother’s Day with Frasca’s Fresh Strawberry Tart

The chef and sommelier behind a Colorado wine destination share a tempting recipe, plus a …

Apr 24, 2020
5 Favorite Weekend Project Recipes

5 Favorite Weekend Project Recipes

Passing the time in your kitchen? When you have hours to let something cook, these …

Apr 21, 2020
8 & $20: Spicy Pantry Pasta with Capers and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

8 & $20: Spicy Pantry Pasta with Capers and Pan-Roasted Tomatoes

Made mostly from long-lasting staple ingredients, this tangy, sweet and savory pasta with a …

Apr 14, 2020
6 Festive Lamb Recipes for Spring

6 Festive Lamb Recipes for Spring

Whatever form your spring celebrations take this year, dress them up with these impressive …

Apr 3, 2020