A selection of date, blue cheese & pancetta polenta stacks on a serving tray

Date, blue cheese & pancetta polenta stacks

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Prep: 15 mins Cook: 20 mins Plus 1 hr chilling

Easy

Serves 6-8 (makes 16)

Serve these date, blue cheese and pancetta polenta stacks as canapés at a party. Try a veggie twist by using chopped toasted nuts instead of pancetta for crunch

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: Per serving (8)

  • kcal258
  • fat14g
  • saturates6g
  • carbs25g
  • sugars16g
  • fibreg
  • protein7g
  • salt1g
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Ingredients

  • 8 thin pancetta rashers, halved
    Pancetta

    Pancetta

    pan-chet-ah

    Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly - the equivalent of streaky bacon. It has a deep, strong,…

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little for the tin and for brushing
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 500ml vegetable stock made with 2 tsp bouillon powder
  • 100g quick-cook polenta
    Polenta

    Polenta

    poh-len-tah

    An Italian storecupboard staple, polenta has its roots in the peasant cuisine of northern Italy…

  • 1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
    Rosemary

    Rosemary

    rose-mar-ee

    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 25g parmesan (optional)
    Parmesan

    Parmesan

    parm-ee-zan

    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 120g creamy but sharp blue cheese such as Saint Agur or gorgonzola
  • 8 large medjool dates, pitted and cut in half lengthways
  • handful baby spinach leaves (you’ll need 32 leaves)
  • pomegranate molasses, to drizzle

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. On a baking tray, sandwich a single layer of pancetta rashers between two pieces of parchment, then weigh it down with a second tray (this will stop it wrinkling as it cooks). Bake for 10-15 mins until the fat is crisp and golden. Pat with kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat. The pancetta can be cooked a day ahead and chilled. Reheat before serving.

  2. Oil a 20cm round tin. Boil the stock in a saucepan, then slowly stir in the polenta and simmer for 5 mins, whisking, until thick and smooth. Stir in 1 tbsp oil, the rosemary and parmesan, if using, and season. Spoon the mixture into the tin, level the top, then set in the fridge for at least 1 hr in the fridge or until very firm. 

  3. When ready to eat, heat a griddle pan or non-stick frying pan until hot. Cut the set polenta into 16 wedges, brush with a little oil, then cook for 4 mins on each side or until golden and marked. Transfer to a serving plate or board. The polenta can be griddled a day ahead. Reheat it in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving.

  4. Meanwhile, use a cutlery knife to push about 1 tsp cheese into the middle of each date half. Thread a cocktail stick through each stuffed date, then add a piece of pancetta, two spinach leaves and a wedge of hot polenta. To serve, drizzle with a little of the pomegranate molasses.

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