Monday, November 16, 2009

Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes over Polenta

There is nothing wrong with simplicity.  In fact, it is a magnificently beautiful concept that gives rise to dishes like this one.  I have been craving polenta for weeks, and I finally decided to partake this evening in a rustic, hearty and comforting dish with beautiful Italian flavors.  There are very few ingredients, but they are good quality ones.   This is a perfect meal for a cool fall evening, with a glass of wine and some good music in the background.  Bliss, my friends.  Bliss.

The other fantastic aspect of this meal is that it gave me a chance to try out a different way of making polenta, and I am officially a convert.  I had heard about this method many times before, and finally got around to trying it.  Why would I ever go back?  You'll see in the instructions below that your days of whisking almost constantly on the stovetop are behind you.

Please try this.  If you have a hunk of crusty bread nearby, even better.

Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes over Polenta
serves 2-3


3/4 cup polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons quality balsamic vinegar
handful basil leaves, torn
3 large garlic cloves, crushed with the flat edge of a knife
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 425.  In an 8 x 8 baking dish or similar sized casserole, combine polenta, water, broth, milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so, until polenta thickens and has a porridge-y consistency.

2.  While the polenta is baking, place the tomatoes in a single layer in a small baking dish.  Drizzle with EVOO and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.  Add garlic cloves and basil, and toss everything together.  When the polenta has been baking for about 15 minutes, add the tomato dish to the oven.   Each time you open the oven to stir the polenta, stir up the tomatoes, too.

3.  When there are about 5 minutes left in the baking time, stir parmesan into the polenta.  When everything is done (tomatoes are mostly burst, polenta has thickened), serve tomatoes and juices over the polenta.


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