In Simply Satisfying (The Experiment, 2012), author Jeanne Lemlin offers more than 200 seasonal vegetarian recipes featuring readily available ingredients and straightforward techniques that are sure to please even the most dedicated of carnivores. These three vegetarian appetizer recipes come from the chapter "Starters." You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Simply Satisfying.
Cheese-Filled Deep-Fried Polenta Balls Recipe
Polenta is a wonderful grain dish to become familiar with because it is so quick to make, and it goes well with most vegetables and sauces. This is a sumptuous appetizer that is richly varied in texture, with a crispy coating on the outside, light and moist polenta within, and a creamy center of melted cheese.
Makes 12 balls (4 to 6 servings)
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/2 cup cornmeal
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 ounces semisoft cheese (such as Italian Fontina, Muenster, or Monterey Jack)
• 3/4 cup Bread Crumbs
• Oil for frying
1. To make the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, then very slowly add the cornmeal, beating constantly with a wire whisk. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, whisking constantly, until the polenta tears away from the sides of the pan, about 10 minutes. Pour onto a plate and chill until cold, about 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Put the polenta in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add the egg, Parmesan cheese, flour, and salt, and mix well. May be prepared to this point up to 24 hours in advance, covered, and chilled.
3. Cut the cheese into 12 cubes, about 1/2-inch each. Form the polenta mixture into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and insert a cube of cheese into the center, making sure to cover the cheese completely. This will be messy but manageable. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat completely. You can let them sit at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before cooking.
4. Pour enough oil into a medium saucepan to reach a depth of 2 inches and heat until it is very hot but not smoking. (The best way to test if the oil is hot enough is to drop in a bread crumb; it should immediately rise to the top.) Fry 4 or 5 balls at a time, turning occasionally to brown all over. It should take about 3 to 4 minutes to brown them. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
For more recipes, see the original article, 3 Vegetarian Appetizer Recipes.
Recipe is excerpted from Simply Satisfying: Over 200 Vegetarian Recipes You’ll Want to Make Again and Again, copyright © Jeanne Lemlin, 2012. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. Buy this book from our store: Simply Satisfying.