Spring vegetables with lemon polenta recipe

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Springtime brings lots of lovely little tender green things. You can make this with any combination of fresh spring vegetables.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


For the Filling
  • 10 oz (300 g) courgettes, cut into 1 cm (½in) slices
  • 7 oz (200 g) asparagus tips and 175 g (6 oz) baby leeks, cut into 4 cm (2 in) pieces
  • 5 oz (150 g) peas, fresh or frozen
  • 9 oz (250 g) broad beans, fresh or frozen
For the Sauce
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • 4 oz (120 g) leeks, finely sliced, white parts only
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 6 oz (180 g) Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm (½in) cubes
  • 3½ oz (100 g) fennel, sliced
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) dry white wine
  • 5 fl oz (150 ml) double cream
  • 4 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
For the Topping
  • 5 fl oz (500 ml) milk
  • 2 oz (50 g) butter
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2¾ oz (75 g) instant polenta
  • 1 lemon, finely grated
  • large egg, beaten
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the courgettes, asparagus and baby leeks and simmer for 2 minutes before adding the peas. Bring everything back to the boil for a further minute and remove the vegetables from the water, reserving 250 ml (9 fl oz) of the cooking liquid. Run the vegetables under cold running water until they are completely cold. Drain well and set aside.
  2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer the broad beans for 5 minutes. Run them under cold running water until they are completely cold, then set aside with the other vegetables.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the butter in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced leeks, garlic, potatoes and fennel and fry them gently for 15 minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Pour in the wine, turn up the heat and allow the mixture to bubble for 2 minutes. Add the cream and reduce for 1 minute before pouring in the reserved vegetable liquid. Simmer everything for 5 more minutes. Allow to cool. Then carefully pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the herbs, then the vegetables. Pour the mixture into a pie dish and set aside.
  4. To make the topping, warm the milk, butter and salt in a pan. When the butter begins to melt, stir in the polenta and heat until it is almost boiling. Stir continuously for 5 minutes and then remove it from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and then the egg. By now the polenta should be soft enough to pour. If it’s a bit thick, stir in a little more milk. Pour the polenta over the vegetables. Pop the pie in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
  5. I like to serve with a Little Gem salad with sliced radishes.

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