Grilled Grasshopper Polenta

We discovered polenta on a trip in Romania and Bulgaria and absolutely fell in love with it. Versatile and tasty, we were very keen on trying our own insect-enriched version of polenta at home too! Hot and creamy, it can be served as a side dish on its own or base for a main dish replacing pasta or rice. Cooled down and firm, it can also be cut into any size and served like that or then baked or fried again.
Grasshopper polenta in a jar topped with a grilled cherry tomato

INGREDIENTS

  • 50 g grasshoppers
  • 250 g polenta
  • 150 g parmesan cheese
  • 600 ml oat milk
  • 600 ml water
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 200 g zucchini
  • 200 g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano and nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

PREPARATION

  1. Finely cut the garlic
  2. Pour the water, milk, garlic, oregano and nutmeg and half of the salt and pepper in a pot and bring to a boil
  3. In the meantime, cut the onion in bug chunks and the zucchini and tomatoes in small pieces
  4. When the milk mix boils, turn the heat down very low and add the polenta
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees
  6. Keep stirring the polenta for about 10 minutes until is has taken up all the liquid
  7. Take the polenta off the heat and mix in half the parmesan cheese
  8. Coat an oven tray with 1 tbsp of oil, cover it with a thick layer of the polenta and put the onion, zucchini and cherry tomatoes on top and drizzle with remaining 2 tbsp of oil
  9. Put the tray in the oven for 12-15 minutes
  10. In the meantime fry the grasshoppers in a pan
  11. Serve polenta with the remaining parmesan and the grasshoppers

Safe to say that we were pretty disappointed when we got ourselves some cornmeal back in Germany and ended up with warm but dry and firm blocks of half-burnt polenta the first couple of times we tried it. But then we found a recipe of baked polenta that opened our eyes and showed us how to do it properly. Since then, baked polenta has been a dish we eat basically every week.

The recently discovered secret: cooking the polenta in not just water but a mix of half milk and half water on a very very low heat so it doesn't burn but becomes creamy. Add some garlic and other herbs and spices you like to the milk mix, and you can season the polenta in any way you like. Make sure to put the heat down very low after the water-milk mixture boils and stir the polenta frequently to avoid it from burning to any part of the pot - maximum 10 minutes of stirring and your polenta is done.

To get that awesome melted cheese that everyone loves mix half of the cheese you're using into the hot (but removed from the stove) pot and mix it so it melts and perfectly blends into the polenta.

You can put any vegetable you like on your base of polenta in the oven tray. We usually do regular baked polenta with tomato, zucchini and red onion, but since grasshoppers taste a little nutty they also go very well together with mushrooms and sun-dried tomato! Cut the red onion in a couple of big chunks for that delicious oven-baked onion flavour. How you like the sun-dried tomatoes is also up to you: they work well either baked in the oven along with everything else or added fresh at the end.

Serve the polenta on a small bed of rucola to also give your eyes a treat, and garnish with the crispy grasshoppers pan. A feast for the eyes and your tastebuds!