Butternut-Polenta Griddle Cakes Two Ways

You can go two ways with this recipe, which is actually not cooked on a griddle but in the oven.  You can add leeks and cheese and serve with a salad or sauteed greens for a savory dish.  Or you could switch it up with a little sugar and sweet spices like ginger and nutmeg, and then top with maple syrup, yogurt and/or fresh fruit.  Both recipes start the same way.  You can make the batter in advance but you will want to serve the cakes hot and crispy.

Slice a butternut squash lengthwise and then bake it face down in the oven at 375 until soft and bubbling around the bottom.  Let the squash cool then remove and discard the pulp and seeds in the seed cavity as well as the skin.  Mash with a fork to make 4 C.

Bring 2 1/2 C. water to a boil and add 1 1/2 C. polenta and 1/2 t. salt.  Reduce heat to a simmer and stir frequently until the polenta is thick enough to stand a spoon in.  Add the butternut squash along with 1 T. butter and stir to mix completely.

For the Savory Recipe:  Clean 1 leek and dice it.  Heat 2 T. olive oil in a small skillet and cook the leeks until they are completely soft.  Turn off heat and add the leeks to the polenta/squash mix along with 1/2 C. cheddar or jack cheese.  Stir to completely combine, then taste and add salt and pepper.

For the Sweet Recipe:  Add 2 T. brown sugar to the polenta/squash mixture along with 1/2 t. ginger powder and a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

From this point on, both recipes are cooked the same way.

Shape the batter into small, thin patties half an inch thick.  Dust them with flour.

Break 2 eggs into a bowl and whip until frothy.  Pour a layer of pankoonto a plate or wax paper.  Oil a baking sheet with a 1 T. of coconut oil or butter.

Brush each patty with egg, then dip both sides in panko to coat.  Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake at 350 until they are firm and golden brown.

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