Trout, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, is one of the healthiest fish you can include in your diet. In fact, the American Heart Association believes that trout’s relatively low fat and cholesterol content make it a good protein to substitute in your diet for meats like beef, pork, and lamb. Further, eating a 3.5-ounce serving of cooked fish like trout at least twice a week decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and high blood cholesterol. The heath benefits make trout an easy choice, but finding the right recipe can be challenging.
This health-conscious trout recipe bursts with flavor, looks and tastes extravagant, and yet is quite simple to prepare. The polenta toppings offer bold flavor—the smoky fish, the mild peppery note of the greens, and the creaminess of the cheese with fresh thyme create perfect harmony with every bite.
Smoked Trout Polenta
1 cup stone-ground polenta
4 cups water
Sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or rice flour for gluten-free)
3/4 cup organic cream cheese, softened
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 8oz package smoked trout
3 ounces mixed baby greens or microgreens, for garnish
Sea salt, for garnish
- Add polenta, water, and a pinch of sea salt to a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula to keep the polenta from sticking to the bottom. When the mixture has thickened, add salt to taste, and sample to confirm the corn grits have softened.
- Stir in the Parmesan cheese until blended. Using the rubber spatula, transfer the polenta to a rectangular dish. The polenta should be about 1-inch high in the dish. The polenta must fully cool—at least a few hours—in the fridge. When it has cooled, slice into square or rectangular portions.
- Heat the olive oil in a shallow sauté pan. Dredge the polenta portions in flour until lightly coated. Pan-fry the polenta over medium heat, approximately 4 minutes on each side, or until golden and crispy. Transfer polenta slices to a surface covered in paper towel to remove excess oil, and allow to cool slightly.
- While the polenta is cooling, make the cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, fresh thyme leaves (removed from stem), and honey or agave.
- Spread the cream cheese topping over the polenta squares, followed by a portion of smoked trout (so that the top is covered with fish). Garnish with a generous portion of baby greens and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Smoked Trout Polenta with Egg. Prepare a single egg to top this dish—sunny-side up, poached, I recommend a runny yolk—but if you prefer your yolks fully cooked, that works too!
- Quick Creamy Polenta with Smoked Trout. An expedited version of this yummy dish. After adding the Parmesan, stir in a splash of heavy cream until fully combined. Serve immediately with toppings.
- Cheese-Free Smoked Trout Polenta. Omit the Parmesan and cream cheese, and simply top with the smoked fish and greens. Optional: Throw an egg on there for good measure.
When adding salt to the polenta, keep in mind the Parmesan cheese and smoked fish will add saltiness as well, so better to go a bit lighter than usual. Make time for the polenta to set—prepare it a few hours early, or even the day before completing the recipe. Cool and store it in the refrigerator.
Do your best to find good smoked trout. Farmed trout, especially farmed rainbow trout, is often considered a better choice than wild lake trout, because farmed trout is raised in freshwater ponds and raceways that are protected from environmental contaminants. I like to use Ducktrap River of Maine smoked trout fillet, as it is antibiotic- and hormone-free, with minimal ingredients added to the fish.
This delicious Italian dish makes for an excellent appetizer or finger food. The polenta can be sliced into larger or smaller slices for different portions—anything from a tiny bite to a full plate.