I’m gonna say that this is in my list of comfort foods. Now, I need to make myself clear before my mom calls and says “we never even had that growing up” or “I don’t even know what that is.” We know comfort foods are foods that remind you of home or bring that feeling of nostalgia/happiness and carry a whole load of positive psychological effects, BUT I never ate polenta growing up. Polenta is actually part of the Italian, French, and Swiss cuisine…..waiiiit. I’ve spent the last 7 years living near all of these countries! Coincidence? I think not.
Mac & cheese, meatloaf, Dad’s gulasch (which I have learned is nothing like the typical eastern European Gulasch), or halupki (stuffed cabbage rolls from my Russian/Ukraine side of the family) are not my comfort foods. Polenta, creamy potato and leek soup, antipasto, and traditional Schnitzel with fries are. Ok, I can’t forget grilled cheese and tomato soup. That one stuck from my childhood! These are the dishes that can easily turn any not-so-good day into a good one. ?
My palate has grown so much since I left home at the young age of 17 to university. Sometimes I talk about food that I make or eat, and while it might seem fancy, they are really just outside of the “typical” American cuisine or I just choose to use a fancy word….like celeriac (it’s just celery root…you can find it at almost any grocery store).
I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to live in Europe, travel around and experience different cultures and their cuisines. At this point, I ask myself often…what is normal anyway? Normal is only what YOU make it to be.
If you have never had polenta, this bowl might be a good place to start. You can easily substitute the swiss chard for spinach, although if you’ve never cooked with swiss chard, just try it. It’s so delicious and there’s not much of a taste difference.
When you go to buy swiss chard, you may notice that you can buy a variety of colored stems. I tend to buy the ones with the purple”ish”/red stems just because I think they are so pretty, not because there is any taste difference. I like the way the stems bleed a little pink when cooked, giving my dish a nice pop of color.
Swiss chard is the ultimate nutrient dense food….ya know….high nutritional punch with low caloric value. Here’s an overview:
- 1 cup = 35 calories
- High levels of Vitamins K, A, C
- Loaded with potassium, magnesium, calcium (just to name a few!)
- Loaded with antioxidants & especially rich in betalains which have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties (kickin’ some free radical a**)
- Helps regulate blood sugar
But swiss chard is not the only star in this dish! Roasted tomatoes mixed with some sundried-tomatoes, olives, capers (my favorite!), fresh herbs, and fresh Parmesan cheese all shine just as well.
Pure Mediterranean flavor without even having to travel there. ✈️ Although, I do recommend putting anywhere in the Mediterranean on your bucket list.
I hope you enjoy my comfort food dish!