Don’t be put off if you haven’t used polenta before. It’s quicker and easier than mash and this bowl of comforting goodness topped with buttery British asparagus is on the table in 20 minutes.

  • 20 mins
  • 2
  • Easy


  • a small handful of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 600ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • 150g polenta
  • 50g parmesan, freshly grated
  • 30g butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g British asparagus tips
  • a handful of basil, roughly chopped


Add the hazelnuts to a large saucepan pan and set over a medium-high heat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Tip into a small bowl and set aside.

Add the stock to the same saucepan and set over a high heat to bring up to the boil. Once boiling, slowly pour in the polenta, stirring constantly so no lumps form. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook, stirring all the time, until its really thick – about 5 minutes. Take a little care as it does have a tendency to spit molten bubbles.

Turn off the heat and add most of the parmesan and most of the butter (reserving a little of both for later), stirring until its melted and smooth. Season generously with salt and pepper and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Bring a pan of lightly salted water to the boil and drop in the asparagus. Boil for 2 minutes until just tender but with plenty of bite. Drain well and tip back into the pan. Add the rest of the butter and the basil and season with a little salt and pepper. Toss well to mix.

To serve, divide the polenta between warmed bowls and top with the buttery asparagus. Scatter over the hazelnuts and sprinkle over the rest of the parmesan. Tuck in straight away.

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