it makes the perfect comfort food.
Light, healthy and very tasty, this dish can be so simple to prepare. While you roast the vegetables, you prepare the polenta. I use organic polenta that hasn't been pre-cooked, like the instant packet varieties. It takes about 15-20minutes to prepare. By the time you have cooked it, and spooned it into a baking dish, the vegies are roasted and are ready for assembling.
This simple dish is definitely one to incorporate into your repertoire. It ticks all the boxes, simple, healthy, comforting for those long winter months, cheap and versatile. Easy to cook for your home cooked meal or fancy enough for your dinner guests. The Italian peasants had to have something right about polenta. They know their food.
Serves 8 people
Roast Vegetable or char grilled vegetables
2 large Red pepper, roughly chopped
2 large Eggplant, sliced into disc about 3mm thick
3-4 medium Zucchini, sliced length ways, 3 mm thick
3 medium purple onion, sliced in wedges
1/2 cup olives, pitted
1 dozen asparagus spears
olive oil, salt and pepper
* You can use any combination of roast vegetables: pumpkin, sweet potato, parsnip, celeriac, beetroot, or salsify if you can find it! Green beans make a wonderful substitute when asparagus isn't in season. Wilted spinach is lovely too.
Brush each of the cut vegetables with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with good salt and pepper. Place on a hot char-grill pan. You can either have the char-grilled lines going diagonal or straight across horizontally the vegetables, you choose.
Allow the vegetables to hiss and cook through, take a peak when you feel the black lines may have appears, if black turn over. You want the vegetables to be cooked, especially the eggplant, so push down lightly on the vege with a turner or fork to allow the juices to flush out and created a little steam thus cooking the vegetables in their own juices.
Once soft and cook, place on some paper towel on a plate and put aside. When all the vegetables are cooked, arrange them on the polenta and tomato sauce. Warm the whole dish through in a medium-hot oven (180-190C) for approximately 15-20 minutes. Cut and served with a leafy green salad or some steamed green vegetables.
Roasted - quicker and less time in the kitchen
Place oven on 190C and roast chopped vegetables with a dash of olive oil, salt and pepper. You can also sprinkle with fresh rosemary, thyme or sage to add more depth to the flavours. Place in the oven and cook for 25-40minutes, depending on how thick you cut the vegetables. So cook until golden and soft.
Lightly blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for 1 minute or until bright green but still crunchy.
When all the vegetables are cooked, arrange them on the polenta and tomato sauce. Warm the whole dish through in a medium-hot oven (180-190C) for approximately 15-20 minutes. Cut and served with a leafy green salad or some steamed green vegetables
250gm polenta, whole polenta not instant polenta.
1 litres water
1x level dsp Salt
*1 tbs dried herbs optional
Once vegetables are in the oven or have been char-grilled begin the cooking of the polenta. Bring water to the boil & salt (add herbs if you wish). Slowly stir the polenta into the water, ensuring there are no lumps formed at this early stage. Slowly it will begin to absorb the water, return to a low heat to ensure that the polenta gets cooked. Keep stiring for a smooth textured polenta. Allow the polenta to thicken & cook for 15-20mins on a low to medium heat. Stir every 1-2mins to prevent polenta burning on the bottom of the saucepan.
Turn off heat and leave to cool for 5 minutes. Then spoon evenly into a baking tray. Approximately 2cm thick. Tray or baking dish = 20cm x 25cm
2x Tins diced tomatoes
onion, finely diced
flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp good salt
Saute the onions in a frying pan (or saucepan) until soft and translucent. Then add the chopped tinned tomatoes and warm through. Add the salt and parsley and further cook for 3-5 minutes. Pour onto the polenta.
Assemble the vegetables and bake - see above for details.