• 900 ml (1½ pints) water
  • 225 g (7½ oz) instant polenta
  • 250 g (8 oz) asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 6 slices of Parma ham
  • 100 g (3½ oz) fontina cheese, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • basil leaves, to garnish (optional)

Bring the measurement water to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan. Put the polenta in a jug and pour into the water in a slow but steady stream, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to prevent any lumps forming. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes or until the polenta is thick and comes away from the side of the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the polenta into a greased baking dish about 25 x 18 cm (10 x 7 inches). Blanch the asparagus in a saucepan of boiling water for 1–2 minutes or until just tender. Drain well. Top the polenta with a layer of ham, then the asparagus and lastly a layer of fontina and Parmesan.

Cook under a preheated very hot grill, about 7 cm (3 inches) from the heat, until crisp and golden. Scatter basil leaves over the top, cut into wedges and serve immediately.

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