Golden polenta croutons flavored with Parmesan add sweet crunch to this elegant salad of delicate flaked trout and crisp sliced apples. It makes a beautiful light lunch or dinner, or a first course at a dinner party. You can try other smoked fish in place of the trout, such as sturgeon or whitefish.
Smoked Trout & Apple Salad with Polenta Croutons
For the polenta croutons:
2 cups (14 oz./440 g.) instant polenta
4 Tbs. (2 oz./60 g.) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (3 oz./90 g.) grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
2 small Gala or Fuji apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 lb. (250 g.) smoked trout, skin and bones removed, flaked with a fork
4 cups (4 oz./125 g.) loosely packed mache
3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g.) coarsely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) mayonnaise
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. minced fresh chives
To make the polenta croutons, in a large, heavy saucepan, cook the polenta according to package instructions. Remove from the heat and vigorously stir in the butter and cheese until evenly distributed. Quickly rinse a 12-by-17-inch (30-by-43-cm.) rimmed baking sheet with cold water and shake it dry. Immediately mound the polenta in the pan and, working quickly and using a spatula repeatedly dipped in hot water, spread the polenta in an even layer about 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Bring the chilled polenta to room temperature for about 1 hour before serving. Cut the polenta into 1/2-inch cubes.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add the polenta cubes, in batches as needed to avoid crowding, and saute until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Arrange the apples on a platter. Scatter with the trout, greens, walnuts and polenta croutons. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle this dressing over the salad, scatter with chives and a grinding of pepper, and serve. Serves 10-12.
Find more creative and colorful salads in our cookbook Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan.