Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baked Polenta with Quick Tomato Sauce

Polenta is a boiled, slow-cooked cornmeal "mush" -- typically made with coarsely ground yellow corn meal. In some regions of Italy (especially in the north), it's a beloved everyday dish and is topped with meat, fish, pasta sauce, cheese, or vegetables. Cooled and hardened, polenta can be sliced, sauted, or grilled, and served sweet or savory.

You can purchase precooked, ready-to-heat-and eat “solid polenta” in sausage-like tubes, plain and in flavors such as basil, garlic and sundried tomato. In my grocery store, it is found on the pasta aisle.

Slices of polenta can be easily turned into hors d’oeuvres, first courses and sides. They provide a firm base for just about anything. Just pan fry or heat them in the oven.

To make my quick (make-shift) tomato sauce I started with a little bit of olive oil and a tablespoon of bacon grease in my dutch oven.
I added a handful of carrots to my handy chopper and chopped them to bits.
Then added the carrots to the hot dutch oven and sauteed for just a minute or so.
I looked in the pantry and fridge to see what flavors I could add to my tomato sauce and found a jar of sun dried tomatoes with only three tomatoes left, so I dug them out and chopped them up finely in my handy chopper.
In addition to adding the chopped dried tomatoes I added minced garlic and sauteed for a minute.
A can of tomatoes would have been ideal, but all I had in the pantry was a can of rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies. So I added that in.
I liked the chunks of tomatoes but I need a thicker tomato sauce.
So I added a small can of tomato sauce to the mixture.
Then seasoned with Basil and Oregano (from Italy.)
I let this simmer on low for about 20 minutes while I prepared the polenta.
Slice the log of polenta in 1/2 inch discs.

I lightly oiled the baking sheet with olive oil and seasoned each slice of polenta with salt and pepper.

I baked these in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the edges turned a bit crispy.
When it was time to put the dish together I tasted my sauce and decided to add 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese and this gave it a touch of creaminess and the bit of salt that the sauce needed.
When I have the ingredients on hand and the time to make the real deal, here is my favorite tomato sauce recipe:

1 chopped yellow onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 cup good red wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Add the chopped onion and let it cook to translucent for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Then I add the garlic and cook for a minute. Pour in the wine, cook for a minute. Add all the cans of tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, basil, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes.

For step by step instructions on our favorite Tomato and Meatball recipe (it is oh so good) visit this post.

Plate up and enjoy! I would consider this dinner, Jim would call this an appetizer since there is not any meat included on this dish.
If you like Polenta, you will probably also like it's cousin Grits. One of my favorite grit recipes is Shrimp and Grits, made with sausage, ham and tomatoes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments mean a lot to me, I love hearing from you!