Sunday, July 18, 2010

squash marinara with basil polenta

Squash marinara has been on my mind for awhile. It started when the mixture of yellow and green pattypan and crooknecked squash arrived in the CSA box last week. I made a version of squash marinara a couple of weeks ago when my mother was in town, but the last minute inclusion of ricotta rendered it a little mushy. Tonight's second try (sans ricotta) was a success.

In addition to squash, we also had quite a bit of basil on hand: Italian basil in the garden that is growing like crazy, and purple basil from the latest CSA delivery. So I decided to try a basily polenta to accompany the marinara. It's been awhile since I've cooked polenta. Like quinoa, it's a grain that I forget about for awhile and then remember it randomly in excitement. This was one of those times.

We enjoyed our squash & polenta with a simple salad of tomatoes and more fresh basil (dressed with olive oil and balsamic) and garlic bread. A lovely meal!

Squash Marinara with Basil Polenta
Serves 4

basil polenta:
2 c. water
1/2 c. polenta
a pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped (I used purple basil)
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add polenta. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly for 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Add basil and stir to distribute. Pour polenta into 8 unlined cups of a muffin pan (alternative: pour into a square 8x8 pan, then slice once cool). Allow to cool completely. Run a knife around the edges of the cooled polenta to extract the discs from the pan. Place on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Place under broiler on high until the discs crisp and begin to brown.

squash marinara:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4-5 medium squash, sliced 1/4" thick*
3 c. marinara sauce
6 oz. mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c. parmesan, shredded
*As mentioned, we had a mix of squash on hand: several pattypan and a couple crooknecks; it's less important what type you use, but strive for slices of uniform thickness so it cooks evenly.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook for two minutes. Add squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender, about 8 minutes.

Spread 1/2 cup sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Add squash mixture. Top with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan. Bake 20 minutes.

Serve the squash marinara over the basil polenta. Top with additional basil, if desired.

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