For the spinach, boil a kettle and put
half the spinach into a colander. Pour
over the hot water until it wilts, then cool
completely under cold water. Tip into a
clean tea towel, then wring out every last
drop of water you can. Repeat with the
For the polenta, bring the stock to the
boil in a large pan, then stir in the polenta
in a fine, steady stream, so to avoid any
lumps. Keep cooking for 5 mins, stirring
all the time, until thick. Stir in the butter,
Parmesan, half of the spinach, the
nutmeg and plenty of seasoning, then
leave to cool for a few mins.
Meanwhile, slice each cheese into
three rounds. Tear off six pieces of cling
film, about 30cm across, then, while the
polenta is still soft, spoon a sixth onto
each square. Nestle the slices of cheese
on top, then draw the edges of the cling
film around and twist, to make burgershaped
polenta cakes with the cheese
completely sealed in the middle. Cool
and chill for up to 2 days.
Cut the squash and beetroot veg into
finger-tip-wide chunks. Keeping the
beetroot separate, put the squash,
shallots, 2 tbsp extra virgin oil and half
of the garlic and herbs into a large bowl,
then rub well and leave to marinate for
1 hr. Do the same with the beetroot,
remaining herbs and garlic and 1 tbsp oil.
Heat a small knob of butter in a large
non-stick frying pan, then fry the
beetroot, herbs and garlic, for 10 mins on
a medium heat, stirring often till starting
to colour. Tip into one end of a large
roasting tin. Wipe out pan, then repeat
with the squash and shallots in a little
more butter, browning one-third at
a time for 5 mins, until tinged golden. Tip
into the other end of the tin. Heat oven
to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Transfer the
roasting tin to the oven and roast for
40 mins. The veg can be cooled to room
temperature at this stage, then covered
for up to 24 hrs and crisped up in a hot
oven for 15 mins on the day.
After 40 mins scatter the sesame
seeds over the roasted veg, then tip the
veg into a large bowl and keep warm.
With the roasting tin over a low heat,
splash in the Madeira, bubble it down to
2 tbsp, then stir in the honey, balsamic,
soy sauce and a little butter. Simmer until
just starting to make a syrupy sauce,
then stir in the olive oils. Can be made
ahead and re-heated.
Fifteen mins before serving, heat a
little oil and remaining butter in a large
non-stick frying pan. Once sizzling, add
the polenta cakes and fry on both sides
for 5 mins until golden. Fry in 2 batches
and keep warm. Re-heat the remaining
spinach in a pan for a few secs, with a
grating more nutmeg and a good pinch
Sit the polenta cakes on warmed
plates, and top with some spinach.
Stir parsley into the dressing. Toss
the roasted veg with a few tsp, then
pile the veg on top of the polenta.
Drizzle a little more dressing over and
around, then serve.