Polenta, Party of Four?

11:06 AM

Our Christmas festivities have been humming right along!  I absolutely love hosting small parties and dinners.  It provides me with a comfortable amount of socialization, and gives me a chance to do my favorite things - cooking and staging a table.  Two of our friends are about to enter a busy few weeks, so we wanted to squeeze in some quality time before they set off.  They always host us and feed us well, so we wanted to return the favor.  I had come across a 'polenta party' pin on Pinterest a while back, and this was the perfect opportunity to try it out!

(If you've never had polenta, it's very similar to grits, as it's made with corn meal. This recipe adds in mascarpone cheese and parmesan for creaminess.)
I used their recipes as a base, and adjusted them according to what I had on hand, my budget and tastes. For example, I omitted the wine to save money, but added kale to the mushrooms for some extra flavor, texture and nutrients. The hubs purchased a pine board from Lowe’s, which I covered with a sheet of wax paper.  

I spread the polenta down the board, and then alternated my toppings so everyone at the table could easily reach.  I followed the example from the site for this, and it worked perfectly.  The toppings included: roast beef, spicy Italian sausages with onions and peppers, and garlicky mushrooms and kale.

I love the family style aspect of this, plus the fact that it eliminates clutter from the table.  The best part is the wow factor of presenting the polenta board! 

The recipes made plenty of food plus extra, as you could easily serve 10-12 from it.  I made all of the toppings in advance, and put my polenta in the crockpot on warm until we were ready to serve.  Simply pop the pans of toppings in the oven to warm, and you can enjoy a stress free party!

I also threw together a quick marinated cheese appetizer, as well as cream cheese with pepper jelly and crackers.

My friend put together a salad, with a homemade vinaigrette, goat cheese and tomatoes.  It was the perfect addition to the dinner!

For dessert, I purchased Talenti’s Caramel Apple Pie gelato, which was amazing!  It has apple slices, pie pieces, and caramel swirled throughout.  I topped this with homemade candied pecans and a caramel drizzle.

This meal is honestly quite simple to put together.  The roast can be made two days ahead in the crockpot, the sausages the day before, and the mushrooms the day of.  All of the recipes can be scaled down, or even swapped out for vegetarian options!

For the base recipes that I used, click here!
For a list of other Talenti flavors, click here!

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