While visiting Venice, I loved popping into one of the many Bacari, little bars dotted all over the city, for cicchetti (a bite sized snack similar to tapas) and a glass of Campari spritz. It’s an absolute must while you are there, and a great way to sample the Venetian way to eat and drink. This recipe was inspired by those visits. However, I have replaced the bread based cicchetti for a polenta base which I think is just as tasty.
You will need
Polenta – 150g
Chicken or vegetable broth – 750ml
Salt – 1 tps
Olive oil – 2 tbs
Creamy gorgonzola cheese – 150g
Brown mushrooms – 8 thinly sliced
A handful of walnuts
Small bunch of fresh thyme
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
A knob of butter – for greasing the baking tray
Non-stick frying pan or griddle pan
Baking tray – approximately 20 by 30 cm
First you’ll need to cook the polenta for the base. Place the broth in a saucepan, bring to simmering point and add the salt. Slowly pour in the polenta stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until nice and thick. When cooked pour onto your greased baking tray and spread out evenly. Allow it to cool to room temperature then transfer to the fridge to set. This should take a minimum of 30 minutes. When the polenta base is set, carefully remove from the tray and cut into 6-7 cm squares. Brush each of the squares with olive oil on both sides and fry on both sides until golden brown or lightly charred depending on whether you are using a frying pan or griddle pan. Put them to one side while you prepare the topping. Pre-heat your oven to a moderated heat. Add a little butter to a frying pan, fry the sliced mushrooms with some of the Thyme leaves until until they are lightly browned. Spread a generous amount of creamy gorgonzola to each polenta square, top with mushrooms and crushed walnuts, season and pop into the oven for 7-8 minute or until the cheese has melted. When they are ready garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
Makes 14 cicchetti