Michigan Food Finds

A Winning Recipe

I’m a recipe geek. I read cookbooks, watch cooking shows, write recipes and cook constantly. Because of my passion for all things food, I also enter recipe contests frequently. My latest shot at a winning recipe was via the Food and Culinary Professionals practice group from my professional organization The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

polenta (2)

The contest was “the sweet bites challenge” sponsored by Splenda® Naturals. And, I was the winning appetizer category with my date and ricotta cheese polenta bites. It is a quick and lean appetizer that offers a bit of sweet and savory. You can also make this recipe with any local, seasonal fruit in place of the dried dates. Though, here is Michigan, we will have to patiently wait until our first summer fruits arrives.


Date and Ricotta Cheese Polenta Bites


1 ½ cups water
½ cup corn grits (Bob’s Red Mill)
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
¾ teaspoon Splenda® Naturals Sugar and Stevia Blend

12 pitted dates, fine diced
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoon Splenda Naturals Sugar and Stevia Blend
Pinch coarse salt
Pinch ground black pepper

3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted lightly salted almond

Spray a mini muffin pan lightly with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.

Place 1 ½ cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil. Add corn grits and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes; stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in ¾ teaspoon Splenda®. Spoon 1 tablespoon of polenta into 18 mini muffin wells and press down middle of each to make an indent. Place in refrigerator 15 to 20 minutes to set.

When polenta is cooling, add dates, ¼ cup water, vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoon Splenda®, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until thick and reduced. Remove from heat; set aside.

Remove polenta from mini muffin pan to a serving dish. Top each evenly with date mixture, ½ teaspoon ricotta and chopped almonds. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 6 (3 per person)

—Pam Aughe, R.D.

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