How is it August already? Where does the time go, and why has it started speeding up and flying by? I feel like it was just memorial day, and now labor day is already right around the corner.
Well I really can’t even recall what I’ve been doing with all my free time this summer, but at least with this blog I can see all the yummy dishes I’ve been preparing. Here come’s another one to add to the list – polenta with roasted vegetables and feta.
This month’s daring cook challenge was cornmeal themed and hosted by Rachel from Pizzarossa. There was no mandatory recipe or technique, just to incorporate cornmeal somehow into the meal. Another first for me. I had never before cooked with cornmeal before and the closest I came to this was when I made tamales for a previous challenge using corn flour. I did at first try to see if cornflour and cornmeal are the same thing – since now I have a 5 pound bag of cornflour waiting around for a tamale party to come my way. Unfortunately the two are not interchangeable – the corn meal is not as fine as the corn flour and is more gritty, adding a completely different texture to dishes. So I did indeed have to purchase some corn meal.
My initial plan was to buy one of those polenta tubes which I’m guessing you slice and then pan fry/grill? All I could find at Giant were bags of cornmeal so with the polenta making instructions on the back I set off to work. Boil the water, add the cornmeal, stir for 3 minutes, sounds simple enough. To add some richness to it I threw in a little bit of shredded Parmesan, and then a little bit more, and some more – you can never have enough Parm right?
Well I was going for polenta rounds top with a roasted vegetable medley but instead settled for polenta pooridge with the roasted veggies.
The verdict? Jury is still out. The vegetables? Delicious – absolutely amazing, smokey full of flavors – I just wanted to eat those solo. The polenta? I’m not so sure I’m a polenta fan. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I can’t say that I loved it.
Maybe I slightly overcooked it, or should have used more water? Hard to tell since I have nothing to compare it to. This could be like my quinoa experiences though – the first time I hated it and now I’m practically its sponsor. So maybe I just need to give the polenta another shot – good thing I didn’t use up all the cornmeal and can try making it again.
What are your experiences with polenta? Love it or hate it? Any cooking tips?
So if you’re a polenta nut and looking for some new vegetarian meals you’re going to love this recipe but if you’re not a fan, just make the roasted veggies themselves.
- 2 2/3 cups water
- 1 cup cornmeal (instant)
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan (optional, omit if vegan)
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 red bell peppers,
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled or diced (optional, omit if vegan)
- cilantro, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Add vegetables to a large bowl and toss with garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add vegetables in a single layer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Cook for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned, tossing after 20 minutes.
- Bring water to a boil with salt in a small pot and add polenta slowly while stirring the mixture. Cook for 3 minutes, remove from heat and add the Parmesan.
- Add half the vegetables to a food processor. Add tomato paste, and pulse a few times until roughly chopped.
- Serve vegetables over the polenta and sprinkle with feta and cilantro.