Wednesday, April 1, 2009

roasted vegetables and polenta.

polenta

The other day I made some chili, and I didn't have any bread or muffins or anything to serve it with, so I poked around in my cupboard until I found a bag of polenta that had been lying around for awhile. I prepared it according to the package directions, and it was a delicious addition to the chili.

polenta2

This simple dish popped into my head shortly after making the chili, and I scrawled "ROAST VEG + POLENTA" on my chalkboard so I could remember when it was time to make our grocery list for the week. I've been babysitting a good friend's daughter the last few months on a pretty regular basis, and the constant refrain as my friend walked out the door was, "There's roast veg in the fridge if you want to have some for lunch!" After hearing that so often, I finally started roasting big pans of vegetables for us, and it makes for such a simple, delicious meal.

polenta3

I chopped up a big pile of veggies- brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsnips, carrots, summer squash, zucchini, and a handful of mushrooms (but obviously you could use whatever you want). I dumped them into a big bowl, and tossed them liberally with some olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. Then I spread the veggies out into 2 roasting pans so they'd have plenty of space to cook, and popped them in a 400ºf oven until the broccoli started to get blackened and crispy- my favorite way to eat broccoli.

To make the polenta, I just followed the package instructions (actually, I halved the portions) on my Bob's Red Mill polenta, only I used homemade chicken stock instead of water. Because why use water when you could use stock?

In a large-ish pot, bring 3 cups of stock or water to a boil. Slowly stir in 1 cup of polenta and reduce heat to a medium low simmer. Stir frequently, and feel free to add a few hunks of butter or a splash of olive oil. Add some salt, too- unless you're using store-bought broth, that stuff is usually pretty salty. Continue stirring frequently until mixture becomes very thick, about 25 minutes. Spoon or pour into a mold of some kind- I happen to have a miniature bundt cake pan, which I was really (DORKY) excited to use as a mold. I buttered the molds and spooned in the polenta, allowing it to cool in the windowsill until it was firm enough to hold the shape. If you don't have a cute bundt pan, you can mold the polenta in small bowls, or put it in a large bowl and then slice it when it's firm. The other day when I made chili, I actually used some tinfoil to make a tube-type shape around the polenta, so that it set into a cylinder, which I then sliced into small patties.

polenta4

Spoon some warm red sauce over the whole thing (just spaghetti sauce or whatever you have in the cupboard) and enjoy. It took some cajoling but I actually got my kid to eat this, a whole plate of vegetables.

(Of course, in a perfect world, the whole thing would have been topped with some parmesan cheese, but I didn't have any. Surprise!) So, readers- what's your favorite way to eat polenta?

20 comments:

M&M said...

Gotta tell ya, you are on a roll!
I LOVE to eat polenta with grilled asparagus and a poached egg on top of it! Mmmmmmmmm! Parmesan is a good topper, but not necessary.
Sometimes I "grille" the asparagus in my cast iron skillet with a titch of olive oil and a couple cloves of julienned garlic....Quadruple MMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm!

coyotemarie said...

Recently I love chopping up some chard, garlic, dried tomatoes, cheese (smoked cheddar!) and whatever else you have right in the polenta when it's almost done -- super easy, only one pan to wash, and just yum. I just recently discovered your blog and I'm loving slowly digging around in the archives. Also, fellow commenter, I totally endorse the poached egg on top. Poached egg on everything!Cheers!

laura said...

I love the idea of molding the polenta with a bunt pan (that's what you did right?). So cute!

Sayward Rebhal said...

I make an awesome vegan lasagna that uses polenta layers instead of noodles. It's insanely delicious (the polenta just adds to that perfect ooey-gooey goodness of a proper lasagna), and I'm sure you could easily un-veganize it. ; )

~Sayward
bonzaiaphrodite.com

Katie in Berkeley said...

I follow the Zuni Cafe polenta method, which involves a slow cook and then a half-hour resting step in which the grains bloom or something. It's delicious. I stir in obscene amounts of butter and mascarpone.

jodye said...

This looks amazing, ooh how I love grilled veggies, and I also love your jars, they're so cute!

Heather said...

I love your blog!!! Everything that you make looks so awesome! You really inspire me to cook :)

Coconut Girl Connie said...

Portuguese style, with chorizo, feta cheese and tomatoes...ummmmm

Kenners said...

I live for roast vegetables, I really do. They are especially good with poached eggs on top :)

I love polenta, toasted/fried till its all crispy to replace the bread in bruschetta. It is A Good Thing.

Kerri Rae said...

I have always wanted to try polenta but whenever I have had it it has been with really fancy schmancy stuff so I was really intimidated. This sounds fantastic and easy! I think I will try it this weekend after I stop at a local store to grab some polenta (and a few more veggies).

Great job taking over the blog by the way, you have been doing a great job :-)

Birdie said...

I am a big fan of the Polenta Pie from the Moosewood cookbook. I jack with the ingredients a little, but the basic idea is a good one...

the_young_dude said...

I first looked at the pictures and thought it was a dessert.. looks yummy anyway!

Chocolatesa said...

I've only bought pre-cooked polenta in a tube at the grocery store once, but I'm definitely gonna try it again, when I do I'll make this, it looks amazing!: http://www.thepauperedchef.com/2008/04/polenta-where-h.html

Sweet Charity said...

God, I love polenta!!!
I get to eat it nearly every day at work as whenever I make a new batch it conveniently "doesn't fit into the insert". Hahaha!
My current favorite flavor is brown butter and pumpkin. I heat pumpkin puree, veggie stock, cream, brown butter, parmesan cheese and sage in a pot, and once it is simmering, I whisk in the cornmeal. Finish it with a little maple syrup (which brings out the sweetness of the pumpkin), and salt and pepper to taste. The flavor/texture combo is unreal!!

Renamed Dissent said...

This is my first time commenting here so i guess i should start with, I love pretty much everything you do, i cook professionally, and honestly, this is one of the few cooking blogs i really like.

But for as to how i like my polenta, i eat it before it's set, maybe with some bacon and cheddar, i guess kinda like grits in that way.

Keep up the awesome work.

Rebekka said...

Seriously, I know I've said this before, but I love, love, LOVE your blog. So beautiful.

-rebekka

Eliana said...

Lovely dish and great blog. Thanks.

maureen ryan said...

having long known the joys of polenta but only recently discovered the joys of poached eggs, i will have to try them together...soon!

as for my own way of eating polenta, it's usually as a side to fish, with plenty of garlic/ asiago/ toasted pine nuts/fresh rosemary thrown in.

making roast veg imminently. thanks for the lovely inspiring blog!

Cucinista said...

I have been really enjoying reading your posts and seeing your fabulous photography. Thanks for all your creativity.

D&M said...

How about some wine pairings on your blog. Your pictures are amazing!