Tomato Polenta Cups and Just Picked Asparagus

May 2013
Meatless Monday finds me with some just picked asparagus from our local community farm. They had an abundance of rhubarb as well. The tastes of spring are such a joy to cook after a long winter. I combined the asparagus with a simple tomato polenta cup and welcomed the season!

There’s something about seeing that first asparagus push through the ground that seems so magical to me.

4 cups water plus 3 Tablespoons tomato juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 c chopped sun dried tomatoes
4 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
Fresh chives
Fresh asparagus
1 T. Best quality olive oil

1. In a large heavy saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil; slowly whisk in cornmeal. Cook and stir with a wooden spoon for 15-20 minutes or until polenta is thickened and pulls away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat; stir in thyme, pepper, tomatoes, basil and garlic.
2. Spray a muffin pan {including the top area}. Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls into muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Using the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the center of each that will accommodate a slice of the goat cheese cut into a round disc and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes.
3. When they are beginning to set, but still a bit soft, place the 1/2 disc of goat cheese into the indentation. {you want the polenta cups to be hard enough to hold the cheese at the top of the cakes}. Cover again and chill until set.
4. Cut ends off of asparagus. Put on roasting pan and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.
5. Unmold the polenta cups and bake at 350′ with asparagus until heated through and the asparagus is done. Top cups with chives and serve with a slice of lemon.