Friday, May 8, 2009

roasted vegetable polenta

Yes, I'm still posting about dinner from last weekend. A little story for you: I *almost* had a very embarrassing moment. I had originally been planning to make butternut squash mac & cheese as the entree. All of the ingredients were on my shopping list and I was on my way out the door to the grocery store when JR came home from a run and I paused to tell him my plans for the evening's meal. "Didn't we have that last time Dave & Ashley were over?" was his response. Oh no! A quick text to and from Ashley confirmed that yes, that was the case. And while I'm certain they wouldn't have pointed out the repeat entree and would have said nice things in the same manner they did the first time they ate it at our house, serving the same thing twice (when there are so many options out there!) was simply not an option! On to plan B...

I've had polenta before. And roasted vegetables. But this was the first time I had combined the two, and the results were good. Healthy, tasty, and filling without being heavy. This entree is loosely based on a recipe in Vegetarian Food for Friends. I mixed it up by adding some different things to polenta and determining my own mix of roasted vegetables.

This was a good choice for entertaining - I did most of the prep work ahead of time (made the polenta, cut the vegetables), then roasted the veggies while we were eating apps and salads. Here's how it goes:

Roasted Vegetable Polenta
Serves 6

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 c. vegetable stock
1 c. polenta
2 handfuls of spinach, thinly sliced
about 10 leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and olive oil and allow the garlic to begin to cook. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Pour in polenta in a steady stream while stirring constantly. Add spinach and basil. Cook, continuing to stir, for the amount of time indicated on the polenta package (different brands can differ in cooking time - the type I used suggested cooking for 30 minutes). You'll need to stir pretty constantly throughout this time. The polenta will get increasingly creamy as you cook it. When you've reached the suggested time, pour the polenta into a 14x9 inch baking pan and allow to set (about 2 hours).

Roasted Vegetables:
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced and then halved
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 yellow pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
2 small red onions, quartered
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix vegetables (except for tomatoes) together in a large bowl with about 3 Tbsp. olive oil, spices, and sea salt. Spread veggies evenly in a large baking dish and roast in oven 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

Remove baking dish from oven. Stir vegetables. Add tomatoes and return to oven for about 20 minutes, until veggies are roasted. Note: you'll want to do the next step to add to the oven during the last 10 or so minutes of roasting time.

To assemble:
6 oz. mozzarella, sliced
balsamic vinegar

Invert the pan with the polenta in it onto a cutting board. Cut polenta into 6 squares. Put squares in a single layer on a baking sheet. Top each with a slice of mozzarella. Add pan to oven with roasting vegetables for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and polenta is heated through.

Remove the polenta and veggies from the oven. Put a slice of mozarella'd polenta on each plate and top with roasted vegetables. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to each serving.


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