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.
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.
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.
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?