It’s not pretty, but it’s definitely delicious… and cheap! If you cooking on a budget, and don’t feel the need for meat, this recipe is for you. I have been wanting to cook polenta from scratch for a long time now. It seems to be the new craze in restaurants these days – similar to the popularity of Beets and Goat cheese (which I still love). Polenta can be prepared healthy, or with loads of cream and cheese. I’ve had it both ways, but this recipe follows a healthier route.
Previously I have only used pre-made polenta. The kind you buy in a tube from Trader Joe’s. It’s boring, and you can’t doctor it up too much without frying it in butter. I actually have nothing against frying it (especially in the form of Polenta Fries), and want to try this recipe out sometime. It is from a Food Network show filmed here in SF…. yep, apparently figure skaters can cook… Brian Boitano invented these, and they would be perfect for party hors d’oeuvres. (Insert the giggles here, I can’t really believe this show exists).
The recipe below is similar, but healthier, and vegetarian. Works well for Meatless Mondays. The roasted vegetable sauce was really tasty, and the texture of the polenta was just right. Apparently this is still considered Peasant Food according to Wikipedia, but peasant food is fine with me and my belly. Happy cooking to you all.
Adapted from Cooking Books Blog
For the roasted veggies:
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
handful of mushrooms, washed and quartered
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
2 gloves garlic, pressed or minced
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon olive oil
Small handful of fresh basil leaved, chopped
4 roma tomatoes, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Toss the chopped veggies with olive oil, salt and pepper to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes. You might want to stir them or shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking. The vegetables should be browned and fragrant by the end.
Meanwhile, measure the rest of the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 C of the roasted veggies to the mix and blend until fairly smooth. Transfer the sauce and the remaining roasted vegetables to a large saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on low until the Polenta is finished. Remove the lid and return the sauce to medium-high heat. Cook off some of the liquid so your polenta doesn’t get soggy.
For the polenta:1 cup polenta
3 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon oil
Salt & pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt and fresh black pepper)
1/2 cup gruyère cheese, shredded (I used Mozzarella)
Whisk together the cornmeal with 1 cup of the water in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan, bring the rest of the water to a boil, then add the cornmeal and the optional cheese to the boiling water and turn down the heat to medium low. Add the rest of the ingredients, then stir continuously for about 10-15 minutes. The polenta will become very thick and stiff. Pour it into a casserole dish that’s been lightly oiled, and smooth it out. A 10” round casserole dish is a good size. The polenta will set up thick enough to slice wih a knife.