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meatless monday: fried polenta with gooseberry chili relish and baked goat cheese

July 19, 2010

This is a combination of two recipes I’d been meaning to try.  The first was a recipe from Ottolenghi’s weekly Guardian column (are you sick of Ottolenghi recipes yet?) and the second was Cook’s Illustrated recipe for baked goat cheese.  I love baked goat cheese, but had never been able to recreate it at home.  I was so happy to see it listed in the magazine.

The relish was good.  I wish I had gone heavier on the chili and maybe a tab more vinegar.  It just seemed a tad too sweet for my dinner taste buds.  To the credit of the recipe, it calls for pungent, strong goat cheese.  I had a rather mild one on hand and as such I don’t think it offered the intended balance.  With that said, we both cleaned our plate and even saved the relish for leftovers the next day (although I didn’t have nearly as much leftovers as the recipe implied I would).

The goat cheese on the other hand, was a great success.  I chose mint and parsley as my herbs because I thought they would complement the relish nicely.  The mint was a little over the top, but what’s wrong with over the top, I liked it.  Next time around, I might just stick with parsley though.

It looks a little long and there is a bit going on, but if you approach it in this order, it’s actually rather easy and should only take about 45 minutes start to finish.

fried polenta with gooseberry chili relish and baked goat cheese
from ottolenghi and cook’s illustrated


  • 750ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 170g quick-cook polenta
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • About 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g strong goat’s cheese

For the gooseberry relish

  • 500g gooseberries
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 60ml red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2 red chillies (or more, to taste), very thinly sliced
  • 12 basil leaves, shredded

For the baked goat cheese

  • 200 grams soft goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh herb of choice, chopped (mint)
  • 1 tbsp fresh herb #2 of choice, chopped (parsley)
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • oil


  1. Because the goat cheese needs to freeze, it’s good to start with this.
  2. Divide goat cheese into two pieces, rolling it into a ball and then flattening it out into a disk shape.
  3. Pat half of the chopped fresh herbs onto disk.
  4. Dunk into whisked egg, coating both sides evenly.
  5. Cover goat cheese with breadcrumbs, set aside on a plate.
  6. Repeat with other piece
  7. Place plate in the freezer.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  8. Now, the relish.  Put half the gooseberries, the sugar, vinegar, ginger and chillies in a medium pan, add a pinch of salt, bring to a boil and simmer gently for 25-35 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  9. Lightly crush the cooked fruit with a wooden spoon, add the remaining gooseberries and cook for 10-15 minutes more.
  10. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down completely.
  11. While the relish is cooking, start the polenta.
  12. In a small pan, bring the water and salt to a boil and, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, slowly pour in the polenta.
  13. Reduce the heat and keep stirring until the polenta forms a ball and comes away from the edge of the pan – three to five minutes.  (KC note: to this day, I still have no idea what polenta coming away from the edge of the pan looks like.  I gave it 4 minutes and then continued on.  If you’re as clueless as I am, feel free to do the same.)
  14. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon zest and a tablespoon of the oil, mix well.
  15. Tip into an oiled, heat proof dish. Level with a spatula so you get an even, 1cm-thick layer. Leave to cool completely.
  16. Tip the set polenta on to a board and cut into six triangles.
  17. Heat a frying pan with about a tablespoon of olive oil until it starts to smoke.
  18. While waiting for the oil to heat, preheat the oven to 225C/450F.
  19. Remove goat cheese from the freezer and on parchment paper or a silpat, brush the top half lightly with oil and place in oven.  Bake for 7-9 minutes.
  20. Your oil should now be hot.  Fry the polenta in batches for two minutes a side, until golden brown, then transfer to an oven tray lined with baking paper.  (For a non-fried version, it’s completely fine to skip this step, but the crunch exterior is a nice addition)
  21. Remove goat cheese from oven.  You’ll know it’s ready when it’s browned and lightly bubbling.
  22. Transfer to plates with polenta, spoon a tablespoon of relish on each wedge and sprinkle with basil.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2010 7:01 am

    I love the idea of a meatless monday! That relish sure looks good. Be looking forward to more posts 🙂

    • July 21, 2010 8:54 am

      Thanks! When I first announced we would be doing it, my husband asked if it was punishment for him not cooking enough. In practice we generally do more than just Monday without meat, but it’s nice to have a hard commitment to keeping it to at least one day.

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